"Believe in God in spite of what the clergy say."
Martin Zender answers your questions

Martin Zender Answers Your Questions About:
God, grace, salvation, evil, sin, hell, the Bible and more...







How Are We Supposed to bey Paul's Commandments?
Q:
Paul has a lot of commandments to “do this,” and not “do that,” lest we be “castaways.” We know that there is universal salvation, but between that and the here and now, we have Pauline commandments. For example, in Galatians 5:13 Paul says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.” In 5:16 of the same book, Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” In 5:19-21, Paul lists seventeen things that we should definitely not do. If we walk in the Spirit, the Spirit produces fruit (9 things) that are most desirable. And in Galatians 5:24, Paul adds: “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” And people that do such bad things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:21). There is a lot of “don’t’ do” here. My question is: How is this accomplished?

A: First, it is important to note that Paul gives exhortations, not commandments. These are not “have to’s,” as was the case with the Law of Moses; Pauline teaching is antithetical to the Law of Moses. In other words, you will not lose your salvation if you don’t do what Paul says. Why? Because your salvation is not in accord with works, lest anyone should be boasting (Romans 3:27-28). 

With the gospel of grace, God does not save us in accord with our acts (2 Tim. 1:9). This was not the case with the Law of Moses. Though it presented itself as a means to salvation by acts, the Law of Moses could never accomplish it; better to say that human flesh could not accomplish the Law of Moses.

Second, you assume that because there is an exhortation in scripture that you have the ability to do it. Not so. All ability comes from God. These exhortations are not an opportunity for us to show God what we can do, but rather an opportunity for God to show what He can do through us. Philippians 2:12-13 is a mouthful of truth: “Be carrying your own salvation into effect, for it is God Who is operating in you to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight.” We do it relatively, but absolutely it is God working in us.

Anyone who habitually does the list of seventeen things in Galatians 5 “shall not be enjoying the allotment of the kingdom of God.” An allotment is a special holding, such as a particular piece of real estate. An allotment has to do with a special position of ruling and reigning with Christ; it does not have to do with general salvation. I would still not have you get the cart before the horse; you are still not able to effect the ideal apart from God’s enabling. It’s just that no one God has predestined to a position of ruling and reigning with Him will be found enmeshed in these sins.


Can You Explain Matthew 25:46?
Q: Hi, Martin. How does Matthew 25:46 fit with the salvation of all?

A Matthew 25:46 “these shall go away into eonian chastising, yet the just into eonian life.” Of course the KJV says, “eternal hellfire,” and “eternal life.” The commentators say that, if the life is eternal, then the hellfire must be eternal as well.” What they do not realize is that the context here isn’t eternity here, but time. Some will be chastised for the eons (not sent to the Christian version of hell) and some will live and reign with Christ for the eons. This verse says nothing about eternity. The only period of time in view, in fact, is the thousand-year kingdom. God is still the Saviour of all mankind, as 1 Tim. 4:10 says He is, but the fullness of this marvelous promise, based on the cross of Christ, happens long after this thousand-year kingdom has run its course.


How Does the Word “Condemned” Fit Your Hell Doctrine?
Q:
How does this verse fit into your view that there is no “hell” as Christianity terms it: Jesus commanded: “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).

Unfortunately this is a verse from the NIV, but I am just wondering your thoughts on this verse.
 

A: People tend to read things into the word “condemned.” They assume Jesus is talking about an eternity of fiery torment. But there are no flames in the premises of the context.

The word “condemn” is translated from the Greek word katakrino. This is a two-part Greek word; kata=down, and krino=judged. The literal meaning of this word, then, is “down judge.” It is an adverse judgment. For example, a bank robber is condemned to ten years in prison (a “down-judgment”) as opposed to being made president of the bank, which would be a favorable judgment. What happens to him after his condemnation? After ten years in jail, he gets out. The word condemnation itself carries no suggestion of eternal consequence.

My book on hell (see Martin Zender Goes to Hell) will help you to see that, while on Earth, Jesus proclaimed the thousand-year kingdom, in which Israel would rule the world. He Himself claimed again and again that He came proclaiming this Kingdom, which was a time-enduring kingdom. Whoever believed His message and were baptized into it would be saved and enter into that kingdom. Entrance into the thousand-year kingdom is the salvation of the context. Nothing is said here of eternal life or eternal condemnation. Conversely, whoever rejected Jesus’ message would be condemned (katakrino, “down-judged”), and the condemnation of the context—while not explicitly stated in this context—is refused entry into the thousand-year kingdom. The question you need to ask, and the question that is answered plainly and simply for you in my book, is: What happens to the people who are refused entrance into the thousand-year kingdom? Are they banished forever from the presence of God? I’ll give you a sneak preview of the answer: “No!”


Am I Hearing God or Myself?
Q: I was excited to get your book on free will. I will admit that I had the feeling I was about to step WAY out of the norm. When I read your book, I finally found some ground that I could stand on and someone who could show me what I was thinking. My question is, how do I tell if God is telling me to do something, or if it’s just me?

A: God will tell you whether it’s right or wrong, whether by conscience, by scriptural revelation, or by circumstance. Sometimes we wait and wait for a sign, and the sign never comes. Rather, the “sign” is in our circumstances. That is, our circumstances make it evident what we should do. If your house is burning down, you don’t need a sign from God to get the hell out of the house; God is already putting it on your heart what to do, and He has already created the circumstance, so do it. There are no green lights with God, only red ones. The green lights are God ordering our circumstances and painting us into decisional corners.

I love making this much sense. Thanks for the question!


Should I Let My Future Wife Take My Future Kid to Church?
Q: My girlfriend and I are getting pretty serious and are thinking about marriage in the near future. She believes Jesus is her Lord and Saviour and is also pretty sure there is no hell. She feels it is important to raise a child and go to church. I don’t know if I can convince her that our kid wouldn’t need church. She feels it is healthy for a child emotionally.

A:  Yikes. I actually think that the organized, institutional church is detrimental to spiritual growth. If you and your girlfriend are serious, you need to tell her that, according to scripture, parents are responsible to teach their children about God. Sending a kid to institutionally-trained teachers to learn about God is like putting a kid on a chair in the middle of the highway to keep her safe. Instead of speaking badly about church, however tell your girlfriend that you would never trust your future child’s well-being to a man-made institution. Use the phrase "man-made institution" a lot when explaining this to her, as it has a particularly nasty ring.


Understanding the Death of Christ

Q: If all are saved, then why did Christ have to die like that? For just some to enjoy the 1000 years?


A:  All are saved BECAUSE Christ died like that. The crucifixion of Christ was the thing that procured the salvation. One may as well ask, “Since all the plants are growing, why does God send the sun and rain?”

Christ died to save all mankind, thus, all mankind will eventually live forever with God, through the work of Christ. Not everyone, however, will be alive during the 1000-year kingdom you speak of. This is an early part of God’s glorious operation. That a select few get to rule and reign with Christ during this time is an added work of God’s grace. It is still, of course, based on the cross. 


What Impact Has Stuttering Had on You?

Q:
 I have enjoyed your web site and your views on hell and church. I also read on your web site that you used to stutter. I have had a stuttering problem since I was a kid and with the views I hold about church I sometimes never could get my point across to people. What impact has stuttering had on your views of God and how He shapes His clay?

A:  Good question. When I look back, I see how God used stuttering to help make me the person I am today. I don’t believe I’d have become a writer unless I stuttered. Because I could not communicate the way I wanted to verbally, I turned to writing. God has mercifully lifted the worst of my affliction, though I still have it in a measure. As I said in the letter, the more I am able to get my thoughts off my self and onto Him, the less I stutter. Self-awareness makes stuttering worse.

Have you checked into the latest speech therapy techniques? I hear there are some programs that can really help. I sympathize with your plight, believe me. Rest assured, in any case, that God has a reason for afflicting you, and that somehow He will use it for His and your good. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to find a way out of it, if God leads you in that direction.



Do You Believe in Earth Time?

Q: I’ve been reading some of your interpretations for a while now, and I enjoy the hope I’ve received. Do you believe in “earth time” at all? Is there a timeline of events in the Bible? What is still to come?


A: I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my writings. My view of all this “end time” stuff is that it will all take place in God’s time. I don’t believe in spiritualizing it away, as some do.

Yes, I certainly believe in earth time. We are not living in an eternal state. God speaks in earth time, does He not? He speaks of days and weeks and months and years, so if it’s good enough for Him, it’s good enough for me. Some are in the habit of erasing earth time, and they think too much in the abstract absolute; they don’t believe in any of God’s earth-time prophecies. The Messiah was prophesied to come at a certain time, and so He did, to the minute. Same deal with the so-called end time prophecies; they will come to pass. I don’t know exactly when they will, but I do know that they will. These eons of time (called the “eonian times”) will end—but not yet!



What is "The Narrow Way"?

Q:
 Will you direct me to an article that tells why you believe the "narrow way" and "gehenna" are dealing with the 1000-year reign of Christ? That makes so much sense to me.  I ordered your book, Martin Zender Goes to Hell, laid it on top of my car, and drove off down the road.

Thank you and God Bless!

A:  Thanks for writing. Since you drove off with my book on top your car, (I think insurance companies consider that “an act of God”) maybe I can talk the publisher into sending you another one, free of charge.

I think Huck Finn speaks well on this topic on my website under, “Articles.” (See: Huck Finn Explains Hell to Colonel Grangerford) Otherwise, everything’s in the book that was on top your car. The verses showing Jesus preaching only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Mt. 10:6, 15:24) and Paul’s statement that Jesus came confirming the patriarchal promises (Rom. 15:8) limits the message to the gospel God gave to Abraham in Genesis, chapter 12, namely that Abraham’s seed would shepherd the families of the earth. Also, put Revelation 5:10 and 20:4 together.



Why Can't I Let Go?

Q: Thank you for the freedom of Christ that comes through your writings. I feel like I’m free and in such a wide-open space. There is so much freedom and I know it’s real but I’m afraid (really) to let go. I have my family and they need me. How do I really let go and really let God have His way in my life? I’m so afraid to really give Him control of my life. ”What if I make a mistake,” is a constant fear of mine. ”What if my kids’ lives are ruined?” I’m always so afraid. I really wish I didn’t have to be. I so very much want to trust Him, but—

Anyways, this is no news to the Lord. What a messed up kid I must be to Him. Thank you very much for listening. I think it helped to write this and to know it is being read.


A:  Letting go is hard. Have you considered that maybe you should let go of the need to let go? Maybe you should be more forgiving of yourself and the fact that you are still fearful. I once made a tape called “At peace with not being at peace,” and this is one of the greatest revelations I’ve ever enjoyed. It is this: we need to be accepting of our not-so-perfect frames. You need to say: “God, I know that only You can give me the strength to really let go and let you have Your way in my life. But I also know that, at the moment, me being afraid is Your way for my life. If You could see clear, please deliver me of my fear, because I don’t like being this way. But if being afraid is for some reason part of Your present calling for me, then let me be at peace with not being at peace. All is of You!”

In other words, you may need to let go of your desire to let go. Forgive yourself. When God is ready, He’ll do a marvelous work in this department. Keep asking God about it, but keep telling Him that you are willing to be the weakened vessel He needs you to be. 



What Does "The Indignation Of God" In John 3:36 Mean?

Q:
 Do you have an explanation for John 3:36?


A:  In the Concordant Version, John 3:36 reads: “He who is believing in the Son has life eonian, yet he who is stubborn as to the Son shall not be seeing life, but the indignation of God is remaining on him.”

It seems at first glance that this passage undoes the truth of the salvation of all, but it doesn’t. It is true that whoever is stubborn as to the Son shall not be seeing life, and that the indignation of God is remaining on him. But to use a parallel example, it is also true that whoever is stubborn as to exercise shall not be seeing good health, and that layers of fat are remaining on him. But all this changes as soon as the person starts exercising. In the scriptural example, all of this is true as long as the person remains stubborn. When God removes the stubbornness, voila: life comes and the indignation of God melts away. Everyone was once stubborn (read Romans 11:32, “God locks up all together in stubbornness.” The purpose? Same verse: “so that He can have mercy on all.” Before we were believers, none of us could see life. Faithless people shall not have eonian life. But as soon as God gives them faith, they enter into it. The last part of verse 17 is the key: "And they will not ascend any more onto the heart." Things of this life will be forgotten in the sense that all the angst and trauma will be forgotten; this is the sense of "ascend any more onto the heart." It is the troubling parts of these things that will not come to mind or be remembered. "Former things" refers to the associated pain, not the things themselves. We will remember these things, and that they hurt, but the actual pain will be gone, replaced with appreciation for the contrast.

Of note: "shall not be seeing life" is much different from "shall never see life." I’m not sure how the KJV translates this, as I don’t have the version with me at the moment. But the correct translation is "shall not see life." It is not a permanent state.

In John 1:38, Jesus is in Bethany. His disciples asked Him, "Where art Thou remaining?" He is saying to them, "Come and see." And so, "they came, then, and perceived where He is remaining, and they remain with Him that day." Does the fact that Jesus was then remaining in Bethany require Him to stay there forever? No, because verse 43 of the same chapter says that the next day Jesus went into Galilee.

The "ing" ending on verbs indicates the incomplete verb form; it’s ongoing action that is true as long as it is happening, i.e., "I am writing." Six minutes from now, I may not be writing, I may be eating a banana. Thus also with the "remaining" of John 3:36. The indignation of God remains until the moment it doesn’t.

I hope this has helped. Thanks for the good question.



Will We
Remember the Pain and Trauma of This Life?
Q:
 I've had a problem with this verse for a while.. In Isaiah 65:17, God says that He will make a new heavens and Earth, and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. So, if nothing of this Earth is going to be remembered (and I assume that the lessons learned here are important for everyone, for eternity), then why are we here?

A
:  The last part of verse 17 is the key: "And they will not ascend any more onto the heart." Things of this life will be forgotten in the sense that all the angst and trauma will be forgotten; this is the sense of "ascend any more onto the heart." It is the troubling parts of these things that will not come to mind or be remembered. "Former things" refers to the associated pain, not the things themselves. We will remember these things, and that they hurt, but the actual pain will be gone, replaced with appreciation for the contrast.



Faith in Paul

Q:
 My question is concerning the two gospels: How can we know if Paul's gospel is really from God? How can we trust him? I understand that the Bible tells us that Saul was converted on the way to Damascus, becoming Paul. But how do we know that he wasn't just some crazy idiot?


A:  We trust Paul the same way we trust Jesus Christ: by faith. I can't prove that Paul even existed. I can't prove that Jesus Christ walked the earth. We are trusting Scripture. But then, you could ask, how do we know we can believe Scripture? There is internal evidence that the Bible is inspired, but in the end it comes down to faith.

Having said that, one way we can trust Paul--or that any Scripture is inspired--is that it puts such a poor light on humanity. That is, it makes humanity helpless. Paul says, "we have no confidence in flesh." This is important. Every other religion emphasizes what humanity must do to please God.

Paul continually is concerned that people will think he is a nut job, because he continually defends his ministry, and explains how his call came directly from the resurrected Christ. God also made sure that several miracles were done at the hands of Paul. One person was raised from the dead. Signs and wonders like these were always evidence--in those days--that a person acted in the authority of God.



Who Is in the Body of Christ?
Q: According to you, what must a person do (or not do), say (or not say), believe (or not believe), confess (or not confess), etc, in order to be "in the body of Christ" today?

I ask this, as it appears that you believe that you are "in the body of Christ", while most others are not.

A:  I will begin by saying that faith is a gift of God, and no one can believe anything unless God imparts the belief.

Having said that, here is what those who have been chosen beforehand as members of the body of Christ, will be believing:

1. The death of Christ for their sins.
2. The resurrection of Christ.

These points are taken from 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. That's it. While these seem simple at first glance, orthodox theology has made them complicated. The doctrine of Free Will destroys the truth that Christ died FOR OUR SINS, because Free Will claims we deliver ourselves from our sins by believing in Jesus. Subsequent to the cross, our default setting is still eternal torment, and it's UP TO US to believe. This is NOT saving faith.

The teaching of the Trinity screws up the death of Christ. No one who believes in the Trinity believes Christ died. Why not? 1) The Trinity claims that Christ is absolutely God, 2) God can't die, therefore 3), Christ did not die.


Gifts of the Spirit Cease

Q:
 You have stated that scripture has taken the place of the "gifts of the spirit".  (Zender Special 99) I know traditional churches have abused these "gifts" however, we should not throw out the baby with the bath water. 

I believe in the gifts, not primarily because of how I have walked in the realities of them over the years, but because we see them revealed in scripture copiously.

We don't have any indication in scripture that attests to the replacement of the gifts of the spirit - we shouldn't go on a tangent to affirm that the spirit does not reveal himself through acts of power. The kingdom of God is not in word but in power, the demonstration of the spirit is entirely God's prerogative.

A:  We are presently in an administration of faith instead of works. There are simply no prophets today. Prophecy ceased when the Word of God became complete. Paul said this would happen in 1 Cor. 13: " ... they shall cease ..." speaking of the gifts. They shall cease when maturity may be coming, and maturity is here. I have experienced speaking in tongues myself, but it is part of childhood. I don't dwell on it, or promote it.

We need to be careful that we don't come to rely on physical manifestation. These things were helps on the way to maturity, and on the way to a complete word of God.



These Bodies of Humiliation

Q:
 Since flesh is not going to be gradually reformed to perfection and the new creation is what matters, why do believers still have to go through trials and tribulations which have an effect on the flesh? (ie. After the world has already made them realize the need for Christ Jesus).

I sincerely hate this eon. I think I will sit this one out. Waiting for Christ Jesus..

A:  We will TAKE WITH US the things we have learned in these bodies of humiliation. It is like a computer that discards the old casing, but the hard drive is preserved and is able to be placed into a new casing.

"Not reformed to perfection" does not mean we don't learn stuff. It does not mean we don't grow to maturity. We do. I think the key word is "flesh." It will always inhibit us, and will never be perfected. So the main thing we discard is the "casing." The "hard drive" will be re-united with our new bodies at resurrection.



Mansions in the Coming Kingdom

Q:
 I have 2 questions regarding Israel: What did Jesus mean when He told them that flesh and blood shall not inherit the coming kingdom? And also when He said, "In my Father's house are many mansions."?


A: It was actually Paul who said, "flesh and blood is not able to enjoy an allotment in the kingdom of God: (1 Cor. 15:50). He meant that our bodies have to be changed to suit us to celestial realms. Blood is the thing that corrupts, so the blood has to go. I believe this to be true of the bodies of the Circumcision saints as well.

As for the "in my Father's house are many mansions," I believe this speaks of the millennial temple; that is "my Father's house." the "many mansions" are positions in that house for the 12 disciples.



God Deals with the "Monsters" of Human History

Q:
  How is God's indignation expressed towards people who are not in the first resurrection? You have stated in the Q&A section that no one is "punished" but that Christ somehow reeducates people with the truth. I don't want to be punished for my sins and am so grateful that Christ took care of this for me, but what about people who have been exceptionally wicked and hurt so many others, like Hitler or Genghis Khan? How will God deal with the "monsters" of human history?

A: I think we have a verse in Romans concerning how God will deal with those He judges at the Great White Throne. (We are not in this group, as you rightly say. I, too, am grateful for that!)

(Romans 2:5-9): Yet, in accord with your hardness and unrepentant heart you are hoarding for yourself indignation in the day of indignation and revelation of the just judgment of God, (Rom 2:6) Who will be paying each one in accord with his acts: (Rom 2:7) to those, indeed, who by endurance in good acts are seeking glory and honor and incorruption, life eonian; (Rom 2:8)  yet to those of faction and stubborn, indeed, as to the truth, yet persuaded to injustice, indignation and fury, (Rom 2:9)  affliction and distress, on every human soul which is effecting evil, both of the Jew first and of the Greek.


The key words there are "indignation, fury, affliction and distress." That sounds pretty serious. Of course, this will be adjusted to fit the case. The way I understand it is: Those at the GWT go through THEN, some of the things we go through now--as far as affliction and distress go.

I hope this helps. These people who are judged are still covered by the cross, but this affliction is God's way of making them aware of their salvation, and of what they have done, so that they may eventually know the peace of God.



Near Death Experiences
Q:  I believe that death is the cessation of consciousness, but what about the many accounts of near death experiences? I am a registered nurse who has had patients tell me of watching code teams working on them while they were clinically dead - which is not the same as biologically dead, from which they can't be revived.

A: The key phrase in "near death experiences," is the word "near." As you suspect, it is the difference between clinical and biological death. Can humans be deceived at the "door of death"? Absolutely. I know that thought is potentially angering, but maybe it is not really being deceived, but rather a natural phenomenon of the mind.

It is great to hear that you believe in the literalness of death. That is really, really refreshing.



Renewed to Repentance

Q:  What do you say about this verse? Hebrews 6:4-6: "It is impossible for those who have fallen way to be renewed again to repentance."

A: A difficult passage, yes. This has to do with the Circumcision saints rejecting the testimony of the twelve at Pentecost. Since their original belief was based on signs and miracles, when those signs and miracles went away, they could not be renewed to repentance. They could not be renewed to repentance because the source of their repentance (the miracles of Pentecost) was not going to be repeated.

Hope this helps.

A.E. Knoch's commentary on the N.T. on this passage is helpful as well. 



We Reap What We Sow
Q: Since Jesus died for our sins, how can we (saved or unsaved) be punished for them in any way? I am not talking about the hell idea, but some kind of punishment from God.

A: We are not punished for our sins; not at all. Christ took away all sin at the cross. It is true, however, that we reap what we sow in the flesh. That is, if we sin by overeating, we'll get fat. But obesity is not punishment from God; it's a natural consequence of doing wrong.

God sees us through the sacrifice of Christ. It is true that we will appear at the dais of Christ ("judgment seat" in the KJV), but this is not punishment, it is requital for things done in the body, whether good or bad. It will be for our ultimate benefit. I think of it as an adjustment, where all will be made well with us. It is nothing even remotely close to punishment.


God-Given Free Will?

Q: Humans are made in God’s image according to the Bible (Gen. 1:26–27). If God has free will then wouldn't humans also reflect a degree of free will - having the ability to accept or reject their own God given conscience?

A: To follow your logic, then we would also be omnipresent and omniscient. 

We are made in the image of God, as I understand it, in that we are subjectors of the lower order, that is, the animals. The word God is "El," which means, "Subjector." God subjects us, and we subject the lower orders.

There cannot be two free wills in the universe, let alone 8 billion. No, we have absolutely zero none nada free will. It only seems like it.

"God gives to all, live and breath and all." (Acts 17:25). That pretty much sums things up. Now--can we believe it?



Israel Will Rejoice

Q: Why will we (the Body of Christ) miss the indignation while  Israel has to go through it and continue (after thousands of years) to have a hard time of war/suffering? Why has God chosen me for a higher purpose than Israel? Somehow I know that it's true what you write about in The First Idiot in Heaven, but I have trouble with my feelings because I have a love for Israel.

A: Don't feel bad for Israel. God will fulfill His promises to that nation, to the letter. They will be GLORYING in their glory on Earth. They will not be disappointed.

It is just that God has granted you something HIGHER, simply because He likes you. There is nothing worthy about either you or me. We have been chosen beforehand for a place at God's right hand.

Ephesians says that this is God's DELIGHT. It delights God to do this. This is about His fun and his delight, not yours. Of course, we are still delighted, but we are delighted more.

A small dish that is full of food is just as happy as a large dish that is full of food.

Israel will be full, and so will you. Your "dish" is simple larger.


Law for the Gentiles

Q:
I want to thank you for the amazing job you did writing your new book "The First Idiot In Heaven", and your wife Rebecca's outstanding editing. I have read literally hundreds of books about Christianity, yet this one has been life changing.

In Romans 2:14, it surprised me to read that the Gentiles never had the Law to begin with. Does this mean that they have never technically committed sin? Yet we see Gentiles being 'converted' in the epistles.

A: Thank you so much for the kind (and accurate!) comments about the book.

There was law in the earth before Moses. Adam, for instance, had one law in the garden; he broke it. Paul is careful in Romans, chapter 3 to "lock up all together in sin."

The conscience of humanity is its own law, as described in Romans 2:15-16: "For whenever they of the nations that have no law, by nature may be doing that which the law demands, these, having no law, are a law to themselves, who are displaying the action of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying together and their reckonings between one another, accusing or defending them, in the day when God will be judging the hidden things of humanity, according to my 'evangel, through Jesus Christ."

So you see, one can sin against his/her conscience.


Water or Spirit Baptism?
Q: I was baptized many years ago and I truly believed that it was required for salvation. To this day I continue to believe that baptism is indeed required, but, in which form - water or spirit?

A: Water baptism gradually (in the book of Acts) gave way to spirit baptism. So now we read in Ephesians 4:4 that there is only one baptism. That baptism is spirit baptism. It is the truth of being baptized into the death of Christ, that we read about in Romans, chapter 6.

Water baptism is a step backwards.



In-Your-Face Teaching

Q:
Your "in-your-face" style doesn't bother me, but my wife, while acknowledging that what you say and write is true, wouldn't dream of sharing your stuff with others.

How does you style of teaching fit in with this verse: "Now a slave of the Lord must not be fighting, but be gentle toward all, apt to teach, bearing with evil."?


A: "A slave of the Lord must not be fighting," true, but he must certainly be arguing (Paul is said to have "argued" 11 times, according to my concordance). To see what Paul means by "not be fighting," I look to him for an example. In Titus, he writes that "the Circumcision must be gagged," because they are "teaching what they must not." In another place, he calls the Circucision the "maimcision," which is brutal satire. I also like what he said to Bar-Jesus in Acts, chapter 13. He called him, "son of the Adversary, enemy of all righteousness," to his face.

Probably Paul's idea of gentle is different than ours. In Galatians, chapter 3, he starts this way: "O foolish Galatians." I like J.B. Phillip's paraphrase: "Dear idiots of Galatia." In Romans, chapter 1, Paul calls those who think they are wise, "stupid."

I would have to say that more people are drawn to my style than repulsed by it. I would encourage your wife to go ahead and try and share. he might be surprised. My stuff is the breath of fresh air that most people are actually starving for.



Church is Bondage

Q: I just recently converted from Church of God to Christian Universalism, but my family and I have now left our church. I was a youth pastor and tried giving them scripture and insight as to what God was revealing to me, but they thought I was a lunatic. They taunted me from the pulpit and in class until I gave up.

My kids want to go to church--where do I go from here?

A: I understand your pain. Nothing hurts worse than being rejected by loved-ones. But thank God that you have seen the truth. Going to church is spiritually hazardous, and that's an understatement.

Start your own group. Surely there are one or two or three from the church who were interested in what you had to say? Start teaching your own family. 

Tell your children that it is your responsibility to educate them in the things of God--because it is. They will love you for it. I know that they need a social outlet, but find something other than church. All church will do is bring them into bondage.

I hope this has helped. You are a brave man, and you are not alone.


Sticking With the Inspired 66 Books

Q:
Those who say they are seeking truth eventually fall back on assumptions that they don't really want to question. I've gone beyond that and am swimming in a sea of information that can't be ignored.

How the canon of Scripture was chosen is highly suspect. I have been reading and looking into the teachings and practices of the Gnostics and other "underground" groups throughout history. What about the Book of Enoch? Surely you haven't left these stones unturned?


A: I don't mean to sound audacious, but I have more answers now than questions. The apostle Paul speaks of being rooted and grounded in the truth--unmovable.

When one looks at the interior structure of the 66 books, then one becomes convinced that these are the inspired words. E.W. Bullinger's work on "structures in the Bible" is an eye-opener that will convince you that the 66 books are inspired, no matter how they were chosen.  There is internal evidence, is what I am saying.

No, I have no interest in the so-called "lost books." I am not on an "endless search" with "no answers." I encourage you to trust the inspiration of God's Word, as He has preserved it, and get founded on that. Otherwise, you may be in danger of drifting and never becoming rooted and grounded.

That is my prayer for you!



Busting up a Church Service

Q: Last Sunday I went into a truck stop and saw about ten drivers in the lounge staring at a 13" inch monitor. They had the saddest faces, but the guy running the video had this smug look. It dawned on me...it was a Sunday morning church service.

I stood there for a second and a million things flashed through my head. Should I run in and throw the video? What would have happened if I would have gone in there and told them the real truth?

I turned away and slowly walked back to my truck. It was so sad.

What would you have done, Martin?

A: I would have done the same thing you did--walked out. The only difference is that I would have walked out faster than you did. I am not a confrontational person, believe it or not. I will engage when engaged, but other than that I stay out of Christian business.

The beauty of my job is that I write books, and that's where I get everything off my chest. I have no problem writing in books that God is going to destroy the Christian religion and kill the people in it before this eons ends, but I no urge to bust up a wonderful little (i.e. Satanic) church service in person.



Worshipping the Man, Jesus

Q: If I worship Jesus as a created being, my friend says I am worshipping His creation and not God. But, I worship the "SPIRIT" that lives in Jesus...not the man. Am I correct?

A: Your friend acts as if Jesus Christ is just "another piece of creation," like an ant or an aardvark. In fact, He is the "firstborn of ALL creation (Colossians, chapter 1). Yes, He was created, but He was THE VERY FIRST THING CREATED. Tell your friend that this makes Him SPECIAL. He is appointed BY GOD to be God's visible image. This cannot be said of an ant or an aardvark. No, you DO NOT worship the spirit that lives in Jesus. That is not scriptural, neither is it factual. You worship Jesus. Don't apologize for it to anyone. Thomas was actually touching Him when he said, "My Lord, and my God." Jesus is the only God we will ever see. As the Son of God, He is worthy to take the titles of God, and to be worshipped as God.


Salvation is a Done Deal

Q: Just had a quick question regarding Romans 10:9 (If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.). My mom, basically, yells at me saying she is going to abandon her "apostate son" and rubs this verse in as an ultimatum.

Could you help me understand what the Greek says about this verse?

A: The word "saved," in the Greek in that verse, is in the incomplete verb form, which indicates ongoing action. In other words, in the Greek, this reads: "You shall be being saved." This is the realization of salvation. Interesting that in Ephesians 2:9--"In grace, through faith, are you saved," the tense of the "saved" is the complete verb form, and so it reads: "You are the ones HAVING BEEN SAVED." Whenever we look at the action from God's point of view, it is the complete verb form: A DONE DEAL. 

Only from the human viewpoint is the incomplete verb form used, meaning that our confession brings is to a REALIZATION of what God has already accomplished.

Point your mom to Ephesians 2:9, and tell her that salvation is ABSOLUTELY speaking through grace (God has done it), and only RELATIVELY is it through faith. Our faith makes it real TO US, but it has already been accomplished (complete verb form) by God and Christ.



Walk Away From Apostasy

Q: I was a Christian for many years, but have "seen the light" so to speak!

I just wish others would stop living in deception; like my Christian friends who think it is spiritual and proper to be seen carrying a large wooden cross through town. What's your take on this?


A: The world is nuts. Religious people are especially insane. All you can do is shake your head. If you feel like warning your friends, you should. Paul says, "One, and then a second admonition." After that, walk away from them and leave them to their fate. Have your faith to yourself, and thank God that you are chosen. We can't change the world.

It is almost impossible for me to dialogue with people who disagree with me. I hate it. My "revenge" is simply to write the truth in books. I love writing books, because then I don't have to see idiots dragging crosses. 

I don't even have to hear the reactions to my books, if I don't want to. I cannot handle witnessing or hearing apostasy. Sounds like you are the same way.

Embrace your faith, thank God for it, and leave these others to Him. It is obvious that they are not believers. But they will be--eventually



Fallen Angel?

Q: Was Satan an angel who was kicked out of heaven? What about the name Lucifer?

A: Satan was NOT a good angel who went bad. He was a sinner from his beginning. God created him that way. I think John 8:44 says, "He was a mankiller from the beginning." Satan is still in heaven. He will not be kicked out until the days of the Tribulation. "Lucifer" is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for "howl." The lie of  Satan falling comes from Isaiah, chapter 14, and Ezekiel, chapter 28, about "the king of Tyre" and "the king of Babylon." These in no way refer to Satan; the verses must be twisted to do that.  


The Bible: Too Strange to be Truth?

Q: I am dealing with wavering faith in God. I find it hard to believe when there are so many strange and odd things in the Bible (snakes, worldwide floods, etc.) . Why do you believe in the Bible? Is it based on your religious background?

A: Don't worry. We all have weak faith now and then.

The Bible puts a bad light on humanity, which is why I know it was not inspired by a human being.

What is so unbelievable about a world-wide flood? What would be REALLY unbelievable is if Joel Osteen ever became a true believer.

But seriously, God does ridiculous things in the Bible on purpose. Have you not read in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, that, "The foolishness of God is wiser than men" and "The stupidity of God is smarter than men?"

All of these "unbelievable" things you mentioned, happened. In fact, Balaam's donkey also talked. (What freaks me out is that Balaam answered it.) The animals all talked in the garden of Eden, I believe. After the curse, there came a huge gulf between the human and the animal kingdom. Now, all a pig can do is oink. It must be very humiliating for the pig. In the old days of the prophet Balaam, it used to be a miracle when an ass spoke. Now it's a miracle if one shuts up.

God does things like this to eventually show humankind that even His stupidity (talking asses, worldwide floods,) is wiser than Einstein. Belief isn't complicated. You just do it, and stop relying on your own wisdom. See, you're a genius, and you would never have done ANYTHING so ridiculous as flood the world. If YOU were God, you would do SMART stuff that made sense.

I dare say that God makes more sense than all of us.

Stop relying on your own wisdom, your own understanding, and your own sense of what is intelligent and what is not. Your God will turn out to be the true genius when you learn to believe and trust Him.



The Buck Stops...on God's Desk

Q:
I’m struggling with reconciling the concept of a loving God with a God who orchestrates evil.  I am seeing a God that has a split personality.

A: God doesn't have a split personality, any more than a parent has a split personality who one minute makes his child chocolate chip cookies, and the next minute disciplines him. You must get over the fact that you're never going to like certain horrible evils God effects in this world. I have. You're trying to come to a point where you're "fine" with evil, but that point will never come in this life; do yourself a favor and stop striving for it. You know the truth of God's absolute control, and that's good enough. Be at peace with not being at peace. God will make sense of it all for you THEN, not now.


A "Fundie" on the Mend Considers Faith

Q: I just read your Free Will and the "Oh Well" Creed and couldn't stop laughing. Thanks!

What role faith does faith play in our relationship with Christ? Do you have any articles that tackle John 3:16 - which has always seemed to imply that one must believe in order for salvation to occur? I am a recovering fundamentalist. Help!


A: I am glad you find my writing both informative and funny. That's what I strive to do!

Faith is important, but it is a gift of God that acquaints us with the fact. Here is the difference between Fundamentalism and the truth: They say that one has to believe in order to be saved. The truth is that one is saved first, and then given belief by God to accord with that fact.

It's the "realization of the truth" sort of thing (1 Tim. 2:6). Two good verses showing faith to be a gift are Rom. 12:3 and Phil. 1:29.

We are not saved because we believe, we believe because we are saved.



Judas...and the Inevitable

Q: I believe that God will save everyone, but have trouble with Mark 14:21. If Judas will be saved in glory, why would it be better if he had never been born?

A: The Concordant Version of that passage makes it clear that it would have been ideal for CHRIST (He is the "that man" of the passage) if Judas were not born. It would have been ideal in a relative, comfort-sense for Christ, but obviously He had to be betrayed.


Your Opinion of God Doesn't Matter

Q:
I understand that we were all saved at the cross. But, people in Christ get sick like everyone else. They fail in exams, have accidents and lose kids like other people.

We only want to know him and yet we lose friends and nobody really wants to listen to us.

What is God actually doing now here on earth? Just watching? Does he has an agenda for this place? No human ‘father of love’ would act like God,


A: You are basing your opinion of God on your own emotion. You say he is not loving. That's your opinion, based on your experience. Scripture says, "God is love." You don't believe that, because you think your opinion and your experience is smarter than scripture.

That is what He is "up to."

If you believe this verse, then there is no way you could possibly see God as a passive spectator.

God turns all evil into good. Evil is not eternal. It is a necessary contrast to the coming glory.

The salvation of all in no way means we don't evangelize. Look at Paul. It means that now we actually HAVE an evangel.

In other words, we are not fatalists.

Forget about your opinions of God. Believe scripture! This is a pure walk of faith, brother. I know it's hard. It ain't pretty--we both know that. It's not supposed to be. Ever been at a literal birth? It ain't pretty

But a beautiful thing is coming.

Believe God.  



Belief is a Struggle

Q: I have not attended church for two years, but I miss it. I have alienated one friend by giving him one of your books. I am feeling like a fish out of water.

I am always searching, but it doesn't make life comfortable. It doesn't even make living in my own skin comfortable. I wish sometimes I could  turn my brain off and just live - like so many other people seem to do. I need someone to talk to. What now?

A: I understand what you mean about being uncomfortable in your own skin. You will note in scripture how miserably situated (of soul) most of the men and women of God were. They, too, were fish out of water. We are fish out of water in the manner of Leonardo DaVinci. He was drawing pictures of helicopters five hundred years ago. Everybody thought he was nuts. But he wasn't nuts, he was ahead of his time. We are ahead of our time.

The teaching of the salvation of all will be very popular someday, believe me. It will not happen on this earth tomorrow, but we will see it coming to fruition when this wicked and ignorant age is past. Then it will be very, very popular. There are very few living legends. That is because legendhood generally places one so far ahead of one's contemporaries vision-wise that no one can keep up. They're all watching television and playing church.

Keep trying to direct people toward my books. I like the reactions you are getting, because people either love them or hate them. Don't expect much from religious people. Religious people crucified Christ.

Believe me, I have to turn off my brain occasionally, if only as a survival mechanism. I have safety valves that keep me from going crazy. I take all my complaints to God, and I don't blame myself for being flawed. I am trying to enjoy my flaws as well as my accomplishments. I am enjoying being both abased and applauded. I think the same of the mud and the sun today, because they are both players in the drama of God's universe. Revel in your miserableness. When you can learn to do that, then you will find you will never need psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is only for those who fail to be at peace with not being at peace, or who can't be happy about being so miserable. Once you have learned these things, then you can rest in not being restful. There's a verse for that, and it goes, "Don't worry about anything." (Philippians 4:6) If we are told not to worry, then there must be things to worry about. I had to hurry up and quote scripture there, before you thought that I might be crazy. Sometimes, this is as good as it gets this side of immortality.

Everything you said is part of the struggle which, coming to terms with, we no longer struggle against.

Keep up the non-work. 


Losing Eonionan Life
Q: Can we lose our eonian life? We ARE human and have faults and surely as it says in 2 Timothy 2:13, if we are not steadfast, God will be steadfast in His care of our eonian salvation.

Before I  became a believer I was terrified of going to hell. Now I'm frightened of losing eonian life!


A: Set your mind at ease. You CANNOT lose eonian life. People who are stagnant in their spiritual life, however, may be showing evidence that they are not chosen for ruling and reigning among the celestials. This is something above and beyond eonian life. There are different resurrections, as you know. Among the body of Christ, eonian life is the common denominator, and this is NOT based on our works. Yet those who stay true to God and grow spiritually and press on toward the prize, are called to something even higher. When Paul uses the word "prize" in Philippians, he's not talking about eonian salvation, because that's not a prize. He's talking about ruling and reigning with Christ. Yet even THIS is a gracious gift of God. It is not that our pressing on earns us the prize, but that those who are predestined to the prize will be pressing on. I hope this makes sense to you.


Universalist Confusion

Q: You say that you believe God is the Savior of all mankind. Then you say you’re not a Universalist. But isn’t a Universalist one who believes that everyone is saved?

A: Perhaps the term Universalist used to describe, in a vague kind of way, a person who believed that Jesus Christ will reconcile the universe to God through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). But today it describes a person who belongs to the Universalist-Unitarian religion. Ugh. Just the name of it gives me the creeps. Universalist-Unitarians may believe that everyone returns to God some day, but it’s how they arrive at their conclusion that is revolting to me.

Members of this religion, as far as I’ve been able to discover, do not believe in judgment. I, on the other hand, believe in all the judgments in scripture—the judgment of Gehenna, the judgment of the sheep and the goat nations in Matthew, chapter 25, the great white throne judgment, the lake of fire.

But I believe what God has to say about these judgments (I pay attention to every detail of the accounts concerning them), not to what tradition has led us to believe He is saying. Secondly, Universalist-Unitarians do not see the necessity of the cross. As far as I’ve been able to discern, they believe that man is too good to be damned. They do not see the need for the sacrifice of a representative Man (Jesus Christ) for the sin of the world, therefore they do not base their beliefs on the blood shed for the world at Calvary. Thirdly, Universalist-Unitarians do not revere the Word of God. They treat Scripture as just another source of information in one’s quest for truth. Since you have read my books, you certainly know how important the Word of God is to me. I study God’s Word reverently, in minute detail. It is the spirit of God that causes me to believe what I read there. And so, needless to say, I do all I can to distance myself from the Universalist-Unitarian church, a strange and unholy conglomerate if ever there was one.


Accountability Without the Church

Q: 
It disappoints me to hear your attack of the church. I really do understand the failings of the church in general, but you are throwing the baby out with the bath water.

We need the church, if for nothing else, to have spiritual authority and accountability over us.  EVERYONE that I have seen abandon the church for their own "fellowship" loses their biblical grounding and goes down a rabbit trail of non biblical weirdness.  

I refer you to 1 Corinthians  10:12. So you think you are standing firm? Be careful that you do not fall.


A: I'm glad you understand the failings of the church. You realize, then, that not the least of these failings is the church's doctrines. The standard Christian church teaches eternal torment and salvation by human will power (free will), which are two very ungodly doctrines. There is no baby here; it's all bath water.

I understand the need for accountability. I am accountable to my wife. I am accountable to my children. I am accountable to my spiritual friends. I am accountable to God. I am accountable to Christ. Why do you think I would have to go to an institutional religious assembly to find accountability? I'm up to my neck in it, and I haven't gone to church in thirty-one years.

Jesus Christ is my spiritual authority.

I know hundreds of people who have abandoned the church, and they are thriving spiritually. Please don't think that abandoning the religious institutions of men means abandoning other human beings. People who leave the religious institutions of men still gather for informal meetings and discussions. It is not Christ that is abandoned, or fellowship, or Bible study; all these good things are preserved. What is discarded is the killing influence of an institutional body that is more interested in preserving itself than in following Christ; more interested in tradition than in truth.

1 Corinthians 10:12 applies to all of us.



Free Will Ain't Free. Period.

Q: What about free will in daily life? Surely, I have free will to buy a hot dog. I am not trying to be argumentative, I just wonder how far you extend it.

Glad I have found you!

A: You do not have free will to buy a hot dog. You are under many influences: hunger, mortality, susceptibility to hot dog advertising. Who is the author of all influences? God is the author of all influences. Thus, you have no free will whatsoever. You have a will, it just isn't free. As every major event is made up of many millions of smaller events, then God must control the millions of smaller events. And He does (Eph. 1:11).

That's how far I extend it.



The Stubborn Shall Not
be Seeing Life
Q: Do you have an explanation for John 3:36?

A: In the Concordant Version, John 3:36 reads: "He who is believing in the Son has life eonian, yet he who is stubborn as to the Son shall not be seeing life, but the indignation of God is remaining on him."

It seems at first glance that this passage undoes the truth of the salvation of all, but it doesn't. It is true that whoever is stubborn as to the Son shall not be seeing life, and that the indignation of God is remaining on him. But it is also true that whoever is stubborn as to exercise shall not be seeing good health, and that layers of fat are remaining on him. But all this changes as soon as the person starts exercising. In the scriptural example, all of this is true as long as the person remains stubborn. When God removes the stubbornness, voila: life comes and the indignation of God melts away. Everyone was once stubborn.

Before we were believers, none of us could see life. Faithless people shall not have eonian life. But as soon as God gives them faith, they enter into it.

Of note: "shall not be seeing life" is much different from "shall never see life." I'm not sure how the KJV translates this, as I don't have the version with me at the moment. But the correct translation is "shall not see life." It is not a permanent state.

In John 1:38, Jesus is in Bethany. His disciples asked Him, "Where art Thou remaining?" He is saying to them, "Come and see." And so, "they came, then, and perceived where He is remaining, and they remain with Him that day." Does the fact that Jesus was then "remaining" in Bethany require Him to stay there forever? No, because verse 43 of the same chapter says that the next day Jesus went into Galilee.

The "ing" ending on verbs indicates the incomplete verb form; it's ongoing action that is true as long as it is happening, i.e., "I am writing." Six minutes from now, I may be leaving. Thus also with the "remaining" of John 3:36. The indignation of God remains until the moment it doesn't.



Ruling During the Millennium
Q: Will we who have been raptured take part on earth with Israel in the government of the earth in the millennium? Or will we be waiting in heaven for the end of the millennium?

Will Jesus be ruling on earth or will David, as I have heard mentioned?

A: We will not take part in the government on the earth. This does not mean that we can't come and go as pleases God, from heaven to earth.

Both Jesus and David will be ruling. Jesus will be the Chief Priest, and David will sit as King--as far as I understand.



Grace is Radical!

Q.
What is the difference between grace and mercy? Thanks!

A: You ask a good question. First, I will give you the definitions of both grace and mercy, as defined in the back of the Concordant Literal New Testament:

   GRACE: a benefit bestowed upon one who deserves the opposite
   MERCY: a moderation of the severity of judgment

As you can see, grace is much more radical than mercy. Mercy is merely a cutting someone of a break; they still deserve judgment and punishment, but one goes easy on them. Grace, on the other hand, lavishes an unworthy person with multiple favors and blessings.

Israelites hoped for mercy. We, of the body of Christ, receive grace.

I hope this has helped.



Fear and Destruction?

Q: Why does it say in the bible that we should fear the Lord? If God is all loving and in the end gives us eternal life, what is there to fear?

My second question is, why does it say in the bible the road is narrow and few will follow, but many will take the wide path that leads to destruction?


A: The fear that we owe God is that of awe and respect, not terror.

Jesus Christ said "Narrow is the way that leads to life and wide is the gate to destruction," and this is true CONCERNING WHAT HE WAS SPEAKING ABOUT, which was the thousand-year kingdom coming to this earth to be administered by Israelites. Narrow is the way that leads to this particular kingdom. Obviously, a 1000-yr. kingdom is not eternity. Those who do not find life along the narrow way will EVENTUALLY be saved (1 Tim. 4:10, 1 Cor. 15:28), just not for that kingdom.

You would really benefit reading my book, "Martin Zender Goes to Hell."



OT God vs. NT God

Q: I have a hard time reconciling the God of the O.T with the loving Father  Jesus speaks of in the N.T. I recently read the story of Uzzah when he touched the ark. Ouch! I can't understand a God with such a short temper. Have you dealt with these thoughts?

A: Great question. The answer is: contrast. God had to demonstrate to mankind how awesome and mighty and majestic and pure and holy and righteous He was before we could be stunned by the fact that we now have access to Him.

What would be the big deal about having access to a cheap God? God was not revealing His true heart in the OT. We see His true heart in the gospel of Paul.

This seems incredible, until we pause to realize that God had to convince Israel that they could do law, knowing full well they could not do it.

It's all about object lessons, demonstrations, and contrast.

It's the same God!



"You're in Trouble!" - "No, YOU'RE in Trouble!"

Q: What I can see with your "version" is that since everyone is saved and no one has to do anything to get to heaven, then the Sodom and Gomorrah that is going on right now is ok and no one has anything to answer about...they are saved anyway!

My traditional way of thinking covers me......if I am wrong but you are right, I will still be saved, but if I am right and you are wrong....then your followers are in trouble!

A: Your traditional way of thinking does not cover you in any way. It convicts you. Your traditional way of thinking is: The cross saves only when man cooperates with it. Do you consider this a "safe" doctrine? Basically, your traditional way of thinking says that the cross is insufficient to save. This is anything but a safe doctrine. Your traditional way of thinking is that man has a free will. Do you think this is safe? In what way would this cover you? 

It convicts you of not believing the scripture that says God works all things in accord with the counsel of His own will.  Besides this, this traditional way of thinking makes the will of man stronger than the will of God; God wills all mankind to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), but man wills otherwise--and man wins. You will suffer loss at the dais of Christ if you retain your traditional way of thinking, assuming that your traditional way of thinking has not blocked you from being a believer at all. (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

How is it that my "followers" are in trouble for believing that the cross of Christ will save every man. And what will we say if we're wrong. "Gee, sorry God. I'm sorry I overestimated the value of Calvary." I would rather overestimate it than underestimate it, as your traditional way of thinking has done. Have you read my letter to the Baptist Minister yet on my web site? I recommend that you do. I believe I deal with this issue of folks thinking that eternal torment and human free will are "safe" doctrines. They're not!



Jesus Didn't "Claim"
All Sheep
Q: I really want what you teach to be true...that God will save all. But I have a problem that's been causing me some substantial fear. Jesus said to some people that "You are not of my sheep". Doesn't that refute universal salvation?

A: I understand your concern, and I'm glad that you are a student of the Word.

Not all were Jesus's sheep. This refers to the fact that some Israelites WILL NOT get into the 1000-yr. kingdom. That's all it means. It has nothing to do with eternity, but rather who or who will not get into that kingdom, which lasts 1000 years.

What about eternity? Ah! Good question. For that, other scriptures must be consulted. Some good ones to look into are 1 Cor. 15:21-22, Phil. 2:10, 1 Tim. 4:10, And Romans 5:18-19. And Colossians 1:20.

Please do me a favor and order my book, "Martin Zender Goes to Hell."  This book will RELIEVE THE CRAP OUT OF YOU, and will explain all these things to you in simple language. Brother, this book will change your life    



Preterists Are Unscriptural

Q: About 90% of the Universal Reconciliation sites I peruse are in the Preterist camp. I like some of their material but the Preterism stuff turns me off. Why are so many of the UR ministries Preterist?

A: I, too, am REALLY turned off by the Preterists. They disbelieve so much of God's Word. This is why I continually emphasize the literalness of God's Word (excepting figures of speech, of course) and the literal fulfillment of His promises, especially those to Israel. The Preterists don't have a scriptural leg to stand on.

I don't know why there are so many Preterists in the Universal Reconciliation camp.

To me, the big three things to understand are: 1) God's purpose of the eons, 2) God's sovereignty, 3) the salvation of all, and 4) the distinction between the evangel of the Circumcision and that of the Uncircumcision.

If Preterists understood points 1 and 4, they'd have the package. But I guess, in these days, two out of four isn't bad. Christians fail to grasp even a single of these points.


How to Pray

Q:
 I believe in God's sovereign will. However, I have a hard time knowing how to pray. Whether I do the wrong thing or right thing, I know it is His will. How can I get my mind to think of God's will and rest in prayer?

A. I appreciate your dilemma. We do not know what to pray for, and it is impossible to know. So all we can do is make our requests known to God (Paul tells us to do that), and then rest. Making out requests known does not mean that we will get what we ask for, but only that we get to unburden ourselves.

I say it is tiring and unnecessary to figure out the purpose of God, moment by moment. Just live in the recognition that His will is ALWAYS being done in your life.

Prayer can never change God.

Do your best. When you succeed, it is of God, and when you fail, it is of God. Do all you do unto the Lord.

(For more on prayer, see Martin's book: Martin Zender's Guide to Intelligent Prayer.)



Driving Me Nuts...But Right On!

Q:
 Months ago I asked to be removed from the Clanging Gong News  because I thought you were too egotistical and you drove me nuts! Now, however, while you still sometimes jar my sensibilities (drive me nuts), I wish to be reinstated to receive your newsletter - you are right on, and see so much truth that I need to see (from an interesting and iconoclastic perspective to be sure!) Father bless you!

A: Thank you! I am glad you are still on board. There are some people who look humble on the outside, but inside are proud of their spiritual accomplishments. Then there are people who are a tad bombastic on the outside (your's truly), but who inside are as spiritually humble as can be, knowing from whence come their blessings.

You are being blessed by the spirit of humility in me. God made my surface the way it is to do just what you said: jar sensibilities. It is effective.



Bride or Virgin?

Q: You state that we are the body of Christ and not the bride - that is Israel. But what about 2 Cor 11:2
(I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. NIV)? Isn't Paul talking to the nations here? I always thought that body and bride are two different examples of describing our relationship with Christ.

A: Good question. This can be confusing. Note in this passage the absence of the word, "bride of the Lamb." Paul is using the analogy of a virgin (not a bride) to describe our dedication to Christ. This is an analogy that should not be extrapolated any further than Paul's immediate point, which is singleness of devotion.


Comfort to Mourning Unbelievers

Q. Do you have any suggestions on how a person should approach a mother and father who just lost their son to suicide? I have known this couple since high school and they are great people, but I doubt they are believers in anything spiritual.

A: Obviously, this is a horrible thing. I don't think it is ever good to right away tell people who have undergone something like this, "This is of God." That truth must come eventually, but gradually, as the mourners are primed to hear it.

The best thing to comfort is the truth that God abolishes death through Christ Jesus. I am speaking of the salvation of all. Christianity teaches that suicide is "the unpardonable sin." This is pure bull, as you know. Christ died for ALL sin. And so that is the truth that I would teach.

My prayers go out to all those suffering tragedies such as this. I hate death. But thank God, He conquers it, through our Lord Jesus Christ.



Signs for Israel

Q:
 I was reading Hebrews 6 and I was confused about it being impossible to bring someone back to repentance once they have turned away from God. Not sure what it means. Can you explain?

A: This Hebrews passage is a tough one. Keep in mind that this is written for Israel. Israel's belief was based on signs. On Pentecost, they saw many signs. Miracles were happening by the day. Israel based everything on these signs. (Note the words in the context, "powerful deeds of the impending eon.") The writer of Hebrews is saying that if Israel turns away after seeing this, the signs will not be repeated. They need to rely on the living God, not merely the signs. They need a real faith INWARDLY, and not just based on the outward signs, which would not be repeated.

This is the best of my understanding, at this time
.


Who Wrote the Book of Hebrews?
Q: I know most attribute the book of Hebrews to Paul, but I'm not convinced. Do you have an opinion on who wrote it?

A: I do think Paul wrote Hebrews because he understood more than anyone the plight of the Hebrews who had seen the kingdom come so near but then retreat into an undetermined time in the future. If Paul had put his name on this document, however, it would have cursed it because was not too popular a guy back then.

Besides, there are so many phrases in Hebrews that are Pauline. I believe this book has Paul written all over it (except his name). It's a college course for Hebrews to understand the era, to "hang on" and be patient for the kingdom.


Teaching the True Gospel
in "Bible Belt USA"
Q:
 Love your website and writings; will be ordering your material soon.

Pray for me as the Lord has called me to also teach these scriptural truths in Bible Belt USA. The spiritual battle will be fierce I'm sure.

A: God bless you! I'm glad you're out there. Yes, you're in for a spiritual battle, but there are ways that you can lessen the pain.

In the early days, I used to write 40 page letters to ministers, trying to get them to see the truth. The way I figured it was that if I could convince one minister, then he could convince his flock. But convincing one, I could convince a hundred and one. Well, I may as well have been writing letters to the wall. It is impossible for people who are paid not to see truth, to see truth. The pastors got mad, I got frustrated, and nobody won.


The apostle Paul had the same problem. When he received his revelation from God, he went to the Jews first. His practice was to visit the synagogues, as you will read in the book of Acts. But when the Jews caused him nothing but trouble (and a few lumps on the head from stones), Paul said to them, "You have proven yourselves unworthy of eonian life; lo, we go to the nations."

The nations were a bunch of idiots who received Paul's message with gladness. Ahh! It must have been so refreshing for Paul.

Pray that God will direct you to people with willing hearts. Don't bother with the brainwashed. Talk to people who still know how to think for themselves. Talk to people who aren't in the religious rut/cult. It will be much more satisfying for you. It doesn't mean you won't have persecution, but it does mean that you'll lessen the occurrences of it. You will find that "worldly" people are much more receptive to truth than "Christians." Jesus found that out 2000 years ago!

Even in the Bible Belt, I am convinced that God is preparing hearts for the truth. Go find 'em!

God bless you in your ministry.



Much Forgiveness=Much Love

Q: I'm looking for a particular verse. You were once talking about Judas and the fact that because of the magnitude of the crime he was guilty of, that he would be even more grateful to receive forgiveness.  There is one particular verse that speaks very well at making that point. It wasn't specifically about Judas though - it just said something like... "the one who is forgiven much will also love much" or something like that.

A: The concept comes from Luke 7:47. The principle is stated in the negative here, but the obverse is certainly true. Concerning the sinning woman who rains tears on the Lord's feet, the Lord says: "Now to whom there is scant pardoning, there is scant loving." The obverse, then, would be that those who are forgiven a lot, love a lot. And who are better examples of it than Judas and the Adversary?


Seeing the Benefits of Judgment

Q:
 Regarding Romans 3:6: I have heard some teachings that would suggest that God judged the world at the cross of Jesus Christ and His wrath was fully satisfied by His sacrifice for the sins of mankind. In some translations Rom. 3:6 reads: "How shall God judge the world", in others it says "How could God judge the world". To me, one suggests a coming judgment and the other something that has already passed.

A: God is still going to judge the world. We make the mistake of looking at judgment negatively. But even someone who is awarded ten thousand dollars in a court of law has received a judgment. The guy whose parole comes in has received a judgment. God's judgments are positive. They still exist after the cross. The difference is that, because of the cross, judgment leads to correction and, eventually, to life. The judgment is never "eternal death," or "a life forever without God." That would be judgment without the cross. But because of the cross, there is nothing but benefit for mankind, even through judgment.


The Temple During the Tribulation
Q: Regarding the end of era--this present wicked age: Where is the temple?  The Antichrist is supposed to enter into the holy place 3.5 years into the tribulation period and stop the sacrifices.  

A: Apparently, the rebuilt temple will not be on the site of the Dome of the Rock. Everyone is looking for it there, and this is the problem, because nobody can envision the Dome coming down and a temple coming in its place. But in fact, the historical temple site is somewhere else. This is not exactly my area of expertise, but I do know that the body of Christ will be snatched away BEFORE the final 3 1/2 years of the tribulation. Many of these things will come to pass after we are gone, and yet we do see the world moving toward these events, which is both exciting and traumatizing.


Keep the Law of Moses...NOT!

Q: Is the law of Moses solely for the people of Israel: the Jews? Is there anything wrong in applying the law to ourselves as Gentiles? Are the Jews still under this law? If yes, isn't it true that no one can keep this law?

A: There is LOTS wrong with applying the law to ourselves. Read Galatians and 2 Corinthians. (The following are all scripture quotes, I just don't know exactly where they are right now.) The law "carries a curse." It is "a dispensation of condemnation." It is "a dispensation of death." Now why in the world would you want to apply to yourself something that carries a curse, and that dispenses death?

You need to realize that the only way that one can escape the death of the law is to do ALL the law, perfectly. Are you up to that? This includes sacrificing lambs and goats.

Well, even if you were willing, you CAN'T do it today, because there is no temple. Even if you wanted to take the law upon yourself, YOU CAN'T.

No, not even the Jews can do law today because there is no temple. They are still "under it" in the sense that they will one day do it successfully when Christ returns and puts His laws on their hearts.

But the nations? Fuhhgettaboutit!


Rescued From the Coming Destruction

Q: Would love to hear your take on the end times regarding what happens if we don't take the mark of The Beast.

Do you believe that some will be removed from harms way, i.e.: the consequence of not receiving the mark, or will we still be martyred?

A:
There are DEFINITELY people who will be removed from harm's way. This is the body of Christ. The body of Christ is not appointed to live during the times of the Tribulation. This was the secret given us by Paul. It is a secret resurrection, as described in 1 Cor. 15:51-55, and 1 Thess. 4:13-18. We are not appointed to indignation.

This edition of my Clanging Gong News will really help you:
Volume 2 Issue 25


The Dead Do Not Live. Not Even Jesus

Q: I have read your views on death, but I am wondering why, from the cross, Jesus said to the thief, "This day you will be with me in paradise"? Also, when Jesus died he went to hades and spoke to the dead.

A: Jesus did not go to hades while He was dead. This is a misreading of 1 Pet. 3:18-19. Here is what it says: "Vivified in spirit, in which, being gone to the spirits in jail ..."

He did not go there until He was vivified in spirit, that is, resurrected. He went there in-between His resurrection and the time He appeared to Mary in the garden.

As for the thief on the cross, the comma placement should be after the word today, "I say to you today, you shall be with Me in Paradise." It is not, "I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Jesus was dead for three days.


Reincarnation
Q: According to scripture, could Jesus have been King David? Check out Ezekiel 34: 22-23 and 37:24-35 - and Jeremiah 30:9. It shows in these scripture the throne given directly, not through any 'root system'.

I know you are focused on salvation for everyone, but it is not going to happen in just one lifetime. I am into "soul growth" as the means. The precept in the above scriptures makes me wonder if this could be possible.

Please reply before December 2012. As far as I know, that is the end of the age.

A: No, Jesus was not King David. David will rise from the dead and be a leader in the Kingdom. David died, and his grave is still with us. Jesus Christ died, but was roused.

This is bad theology.

Reincarnation is a demonic teaching. Satan's first lie was: "You shall not surely die."

Reincarnation denies the reality of death.

No one knows the hour that the son of Man shall return. There will be signs, yes, but the time will not be known until the man of lawlessness is seated in the temple. At that point, Christ returns in 3 1/2 years.

All modern prophesies concerning the end of the age and the return of Christ are wrong. Therefore, I can say with certainty that this age will NOT end in December of 2012.

I hope I have not been too blunt. And yet, I want to make certain I am understood.

It sounds like you are dabbling in spiritism--a very dangerous thing.



Accuracy of the Concordant Literal New Testament
Q: I've read that the CLNT is made from Alexandrian text which is I believe the false bible. Apparently the bible only speaks of wickedness coming out of Alexandria.

A: The CLNT is taken from the best readings from the THREE most ancient manuscripts: Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus. So this serves as checks and balances.

You will be happy to learn, I think that there are only subtle differences between these three ancient manuscripts, so this should give you confidence that what you are reading in the CLNT if very, very accurate.

Apparently, not EVERYTHING out of Alexandria is evil. Don't you think that's a little bit of an exaggeration, anyway?


Symbols in the Book of Revelation

Q: Have you thought about the things, people, and events mentioned in the Book of  Revelation as being symbols for something? Jesus tells John (regarding the things He shows John in the book) that He does so by signifying them to him.

A:  I think that the only way to make progress in the book of Revelation is to take it literally, allowing for figures of speech. No, I sure do not believe that it is strictly symbolic. There are symbols in the book, yes, but unless God means what He says, then we have no revelation and the interpretation is up to everyone's opinion. We can certainly draw allegories from this and that, but to ELIMINATE the literal meaning is a huge mistake.

Go to www.concordant.org, and you can read A.E. Knoch's book, "The Unveiling of Jesus Christ," which is the best book on the topic.

I hope this helps and thanks for writing.


Blaming God
Q:
 I do believe that sin and evil is a part of God's plan. Unfortunately, I find myself falling into the trap of blaming God because I can't seem to overcome my sin. I continue to ask God for help with the same sins I struggle with and I'm not getting better.

Any suggestions on how to get out of this cycle and stop blaming God for sin that I cannot change?

A:  I have the answer for you, all right. You don't need to blame God for this sin that you cannot get over. Instead, CREDIT Him. You have this treasure of God's spirit in an earthen vessel that the power may be of Him and not of you. (2 Cor. 4:7). If you were perfect, then God could not work in you. He has flawed you by design. So now you can relax.

I strongly recommend that you get my two books, "Flawed by Design" and "How to Be Free From Sin While Smoking a Cigarette." These books will comfort the daylights out of you.

In short: I believe there are some sins that you simply will not overcome.


Again, if you could overcome all your sins, then you would be perfect. God is not interested in us becoming perfect in this life. Therefore, He makes sure that we have flaws.

See? You are good the way you are.



The Worst Sin of the Universe
Q: I understand that God is Sovereign, but how do you answer someone about things like the holocaust and other indescribable events which are of God without making God look like He is evil and sadistic? What about the cruel and vicious rape and murder of a little five year old girl?

A: I always tell people that just because I recognize the sovereignty of God, does not mean I always like it.

I direct people to the worse sin in the history of the universe. No, it is not the Holocaust, and it is not the rape of a 5 year-old girl. The worst sin of the universe was the crucifixion of the Son of God. So far, no one has disagreed with me on that. Then I show people of the amazing blessing that has come from that absolutely worst evil. So far, no one has disagreed. Then I say, "If God can do this with the worst evil, don't you think that He will justify and redeem these lesser evils, such as the Holocaust and the rape of a 5 year-old girl?"

Try that, and see what happens. The only answer is: The contrast of the coming glory will make ALL evil look small by comparison.


Names in The Scroll of Life

Q:  In Rev 20:12-15 it mentions the scroll of life. Would this possibly contain the names of those who endured, doing good acts but never heard the good news of John 3:16 or 1Cor.15:3,4?

And since these names will not be cast into the lake of fire, and there is no vivification at this time, do they enter into the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27)?

A: Yes, I believe EXACTLY as you say here. This is not the Concordant view, however. Mr. Knoch does not believe that there are any names written in that book of life. I don't think this is very likely. So yes, those who have done good works will AVOID the lake of fire, and will be transferred to the new earth, albeit as mortals. Because as we know, there is no one made immortal at the GWT judgment. On the new earth, their life will be sustained by the leaves and fruit from the tree of life.

Way to put the pieces together!

Absent From the Body
Q:  Martin, you teach that the dead are dead, but didn't Paul write ''to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord"?

A: No, he did not. Not in any version. He wrote that he wanted to be absent from the body AND present with the Lord. Let's say that I want to be absent from Ohio and in Hawaii. Does this preclude an intervening trip that will take time? See how different this is than, "to be absent from Ohio IS to be in Hawaii?"

Paul does not preclude the death state.



Redeemed or Saved?

Q:  What is the difference between redemption and salvation?

A: Well, redemption means "loosening" and salvation means, "saving." I am getting this from the concordance in the back of the Concordant Literal New Testament. The words are very close in meaning. A person who is redeemed is merely loosed from a situation, but not necessarily saved. This is my thought on the matter. For instance, someone can be loosed (redeemed) from jail, but they may still be in a terrible place mentally and spiritually. Salvation seems to me to be a fuller form of redemption. I think of salvation as redemption squared.


Circumcision Gospel Believer=Bride of The Lamb

Q:  You say that the believers among the circumcision will not be snatched away because they are not members of the body of Christ. How do today's believers not be part of the body of Christ? In Paul's gospel there is no Jew or Greek, we are all under Grace.

A: You are correct about Paul's gospel, that there is neither Jew nor Greek. But keep in mind that, at the same time Paul wrote this, there was another man alive who was a believer in Jesus Christ, who was very much in ownership of his Jewish identity, and that was Peter. So back then, at the same time, there were people--all believing in Jesus--who were either members of the body of Christ, or members of the bride of the Lamb, that is, the Circumcision believers. If you grasp this (as I'm sure you do), all you need to do now is apply that truth to today. The Circ. gospel is on hold, but it can still be embraced. Romans, chapter 11 says that there is a remnant of Circ. believers even now, "during the current era."


No Hens in the Synagogue

Q:  Is the assembling in Heb. 10 speaking of Hebrews assembling for the 2nd coming, and is the assembling of 1 Thess. speaking to the church regarding the snatching away? Is there any significance of the Greek word Episynogoge in both instances referring to the Jewish Synagogue?

A: No, the Greek word only incidentally has anything to do with the synagogue. It's a generic word, as proven by Mt. 23:37, where a hen assembles her brood. (Unless, or course, there were hens living in the synagogue.) You are correct about the different assemblings in Heb. and in 1 Thess. You can see the generic aspect of this word. Hens assemble, the body of Christ assemble, and the Israelite ecclesia assembles: each has its own assembly.  


Live as if It All Depends on You
Q: To what extent is our free will? God chooses us and gives us belief. Do we make any choices at all? When I used to wup my brother on the basketball court, was that talent and free will?

A: There is no such thing as free will. Nobody makes any decision at any time that is not ultimately dictated by God.

Now, forget I just said that and live your life. Live as if you have all the free will in the world. This is how God wants us to live. We are to live like we have control, but we are to believe the truth that we have no control. The two are not mutually exclusive. One is the relative perspective (our day-to-day life as we relate with other people and ourselves), and the other is the absolute perspective. The relative is not absolutely true. Only the absolute is absolutely true. And the absolute is: we have no free will in anything. Nothing. Zip.

The talent that caused you to wup your brother in basketball was a gift of God. Everything you have and do is a gift of God. God GAVE all these things to you, and He continues to give them. As Paul writes, "What do we have that we have not obtained?" You have not originated anything, but have merely obtained it.


"My People" or Not: God's OK With All of Them
Q: "Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. As he saith also in Hosea, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God" (Rm 9:24-26) Who are these Gentiles? Where in the Old Testament did God make these promises to any Gentiles?

A: Great question. I think it was known in the OT that the Gentiles would be blessed, but they would always be subservient to Israel. This verse in Romans is not an interpretation of Hosea, but an illustration of it. In other words, Paul is adapting this prophecy. The Gentiles are LIKE Israel of old in that, like Israel of old, He will call those who were not His people (when He rejected and divorced Israel) His people. Paul is using this to show that "not my people" is no problem for God, whether it is His chosen people who are suddenly not His people, or Gentiles who never were His people.


Once Destroyed, Always Destroyed?

Q:  I was reading through Acts and was just curious as to what Luke was referring to in 3:23 when he said "and it shall be, every soul that may not hear that prophet shall be utterly destroyed out of the people" Thanks for your help!

A:  Peter meant exactly what he said there. Anyone not receiving Christ will be utterly exterminated. But this is not an eternal con- dition. Remember, Sodom and Gomorrah were utterly exterminated also, yet our Lord said that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah would see a day of judging (Mt. 10:15). So how utterly exterminated were they? Jesus Christ was utterly exterminated, and He was dead for three days. But then God raised Him up. I think you're getting the point. "Utter extermination" does not negate a future resurrection and redemption. 

Wheat and Tare

Q:
  I believe in the ultimate reconciliation of all through Jesus Christ, but I get confused about all of the conflicting information on other web sites. Can you explain Matthew 13: 24-30 (the wheat & tare parable)? It seems this parable is used to justify eternal torment for the "wicked". Thank you very much for your time.  P.S. I love your sense of humor!


A:  It makes me happy when someone says they enjoy my sense of humor. So thank you for that blessing. The wheat and tare parable has to do with Israelites either making it or not making it into the thousand-year kingdom. This is the key to all those passages in the four gospels that speak of destruction and fire and all that good stuff. It only eliminates people for the thousand-year Israelite kingdom, NOT eternity. Eternity is an entirely different matter, and that is settled for everyone by Jesus Christ on the cross. My book, "Martin Zender Goes to Hell" be will be very helpful to you on this theme.


Identified With Christ

Q:
  I'm somewhat confused by Colossians 3:3-4,what exactly does it mean that 'my life is hid, together with Christ in God'?

A:  This passage ties in with Romans, chapter 6. In Romans, chapter 6, we are identified with Christ. We are identified with His death, with His baptism, with His entombment, and with His resurrection. Here in Colossians, we are identified with His manifestation. Our life is so wrapped up in His now (because He took the old humanity to the grave with Him), that God no longer sees us as part of the old humanity, but sees us IN HIM. It is like hiding a stone in your pocket. The stone is hid in your pocket. It is now a part of your clothing. That's a poor example, but you get the idea. Because we are hid in Christ (the world sees us, but they do not necessarily see Christ), when Christ is manifested,

WE are manifested. We are that identified with Him. Galatians 2:20 states all this perfectly!



Islam in the End Times

Q:  I was wondering what your view is of Islam's role in the end times?

A:  I believe that Islam is destined to be dominated by Christianity. Something is going to happen that is going to make us push back big-time. To fulfill the prophecy of Daniel, chapter 7 concerning the four beasts (which are the four main religions), a western beast (religion) must overcome three eastern beasts (the three easternmost religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam). This western beast, then, will become the beast of Revelation.


Christ Took Humanity to the Cross

Q: I agree we "believe because we are saved" but what about those who don't believe? Are they saved or not?

A: Those who do not yet believe are still saved; they just don't know it. 2 Cor. 5:14 (or thereabouts): One died for the sake of all, consequently all died." Christ took humanity to the cross with Him, the whole dang thing. All humanity was saved at the cross. Not all realize this truth at the same time, that is, not all are given faith to believe it at the same time.

1 Corinthians 15: 21-28 explains everything.



Hebrew Letters Are For...Israel

Q: I want to ask your opinion on Hebrews 10:26-39 and what you think about this passage and on 'apostasy' in general. (Hebrews 6).

A:  The important thing to keep in mind about Hebrews is that it is written to the Hebrews. It is a kingdom writing. It is for Israel. Their grace is not our grace, which is why there is so much about judgment in these pass- ages. They had to toe the line. If they rejected the one and only Savior, He could not re-die them, and thus all they had to look forward to was eonian judgment.

I put Hebrews in the same category as the threats of Christ concerning the kingdom. The threats are real, but they apply only to the 1000-yr. kingdom, and not beyond that.

Read these passages in that light, and I think they will make better sense to you. We are saved by grace alone, but THEY are saved by a mix of works and grace. They HAVE to have works, or they miss that kingdom.



Violating the Laws of God

Q:
  How can we be required by our Father to obey human laws which violate His laws? The commandant and the guards of Auschwitz were discharging the lawful orders of their government, but that did not absolve them of the murders of millions of innocents. What if the government passed a law that required you and I to kill our firstborn child? Does Romans 13 require us to obey?

A:  God purposely causes people to violate His laws (Pharaoh, Calvary, Auschwitz) in order to effect His will. This does not absolve anyone from murder. The murderers are accountable for their actions but, absolutely speaking, they are not responsible. Only God is responsible for everything that happens in the universe. We are to obey human laws with violate His laws only if obeying human laws is one of His "laws"-which it is (Romans, chapter 13). Let me put it this way: Romans 13 does not REQUIRE us to obey. This is why I put the "laws" of the previous paragraph in quotation marks. The laws of Moses REQUIRED people to obey, but we are living in an administration of grace. These are not requirements we are discussing, but ideals. Funny you should mention killing one's firstborn son. That's exactly what God demanded that Abraham do with Isaac. If the government today passed such a law, I would tell the government to go to hell; I could not live the ideal. But someone with more faith than me who went ahead and did it would have scriptural recourse: Romans, chapter 13.  


The Heart of the Matter

Q:  The Scriptures have often pointed out that God looks at the heart and decides many things based on what He sees there. To even look at the scriptures with keyword search of the "heart" makes this quite evident. One example is Psalms 7:10 (My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart). Can you give me some insight as to the purpose of these Scriptures in regards to salvation?

A:  Verses like Psalm 7:10 are from the law. They are for Israel, not for us. God does not wait until we are upright before He saves us. In fact, He saved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). This is truth for today.


Not All Redeemed & Holy

Q:
  Do you see all people presently redeemed, holy, without sin, and the very righteousness of God?

A:  There is no way that all people now are presently redeemed and holy. Only those who God calls are that. Paul gives a good verse on this in Romans 3:21-23, "Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God is manifested, yet a righteousness of God through Jesus Christ's faith, for all, and on all who are believing."


Predestination=Fatalism?

Q:  You believe that God predestines everything, right? How is that not fatalism? My definition of fatalism is that everything can only happen one way. God set it up and nobody can act contrary to God's will.

A:  Everything can only happen one way: true.

Nobody can act contrary to God's will: true. Fatalism is not acting because of those above facts.

Fatalism says: "God is going to do His thing anyway, so why should I act or care?" And yet it is through our acting (out of ignorance of God's will) and caring that the above two facts occur. In other words, our acts BELONG TO God's ultimate will.



Jesus Returned Already?

Q: You and others write that the end of this eon is near. And yet, other sincere writers, such as John L. Bray and Gary DeMar, say Jesus returned around 70 A.D. They, too, go to great lengths to research and back themselves up with scripture.

What gives?

A: The Preterists who say that Jesus returned in 70 AD have to not only "spiritualize" and make allegories out of everything in Revelation, they must also say that the prophecies concerning Israel were all figurative, and that Israel hoped in vain for all those years. In other words, God does not literally fulfill His promises; He is a big trickster, and we can't trust Him to say what He means.

When the literal, thousand-year kingdom DOES come, all the Preterists will be saying, "Um...whoops. Sorry about that, folks."



Spirit Beings...For Real!

Q:
Thanks for the CGN on the Unveiling. (Clanging Gong News Volume 1, Issue 17). Any thoughts on who or what "the seven spirits" in 1:4 are?

A: The seven spirits are seven actual spirit beings--executives of Christ--who play a role in the judgments on the earth. Most commentators, naturally, "spiritualize" these spirits away, making them emblems of God's spirit, or some such nonsense. These are actual beings, who MAY be associated with the seven trumpets and 7 bowls (of the wrath of God) mentioned in Rev. 15:7. There, the spirits are portrayed as messengers. That is, IF these are the same beings. I think they might be.

At least know that these are spiritual beings that have an important role to play in the coming judgments.


Believer vs. Unbeliever

Q:
  If we are redeemed by the faith of Christ (and I believe we are) what is the difference between a believer and an unbeliever? If we are redeemed by the faith of Christ, are we not ALL redeemed? Obviously, if Christ did something for everyone, but only some end up with it, the difference has to be in the receiver. What is it?

A: The difference is faith. You nearly answered your own question: "What is the difference between a believer and an unbeliever." The answer, of course, is "belief." The difference is believing it. Believers believe what Christ accomplished; unbelievers do not. Only Christ can give belief, but it's every man in his own order (1 Cor. 15:22-23).


Teach Your Children Well
Q:  As much as I like the idea of staying home some Sunday mornings, I think the positive aspect about the church is community. If I kept my children home from church, their theological training would become my sole responsibility. I like the idea of a community raising them to know about Christ.

A:  The theological training of your children MUST NOT be left to a religious institution. That is a huge mistake. Whether or not you like responsibility or not, it is your responsibility to teach your children about God. Why would you send them to be tutored by people who believe God is a worse monster than Adolph Hitler? I hope I haven't been too blunt, but I'm feeling blunt these days. Thank you for your patience and kindness.


Is It Crazy to Actually Believe the End is Near?

Q:  I have made the same statements as you about one world government and the end of America and people thought I was overreacting. As scary as it is to hear you say it, it is also a comfort to know that I am not going off the deep end. Why do people think we're so "over the top"?

A: I know exactly what you mean. No, you have not gone off the deep end at all. My gosh, when we read in the book of Revelation of what is coming on this earth, and we take it all at face value, as it is meant to be taken, who would not say that GOD has gone off the deep end? People get so comfortable in their daily, hum-drum lives that it is a shock to them to think that things could change so dramatically and fundamentally.

Peter deals with this kind of mindset in 2 Pet. 3:3, writing, "In the last days scoffers will be coming with scoffing, going according to their own desires...and saying, "Where is the promise of His presence? For since the fathers were put to repose, all is continuing thus from the beginning of creation."

People get used to how things are. Our Lord said that the last days would be like the days of Noah. Who the hell believed Noah when he spoke of a worldwide flood? They all thought he was nuts. Nothing like what Noah spoke of had ever happened before. So the people went along, marrying and doing their business--until it started raining. Once again, Jesus compared the last days to those days. We are in it. No one thinks such a one-world scenario can actually happen. Well, it IS happening, before our eyes. Everyone is complacent. Except for people like us.

Keep sounding the alarm, but not for the sake of alarm. Herald the Word. Send people to my website. Tell people that there is an alternative to the horrible news of the world. If they scoff at you and call you crazy, you're in good company.


"Born Again" Confusion
Q:
  It's been my understanding we are not born again until we are resurrected. Is it that simple? We can't be born again until we die a physical death and are roused as Jesus was, correct?

A: Well, actually, we are not born again at all. Being "born again" is a teaching of Jesus to Israel (John, Chapter 3). The nation Israel is to be born again, which means to have the law put in their hearts, instead of trying to cram in into them from without, with the stone commandments.

The apostle Paul says that we are a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:16-17). This is a far more radical truth than being born again. Being born again is taking the same raw material and reforming it. Being a new creation is discarding the old material completely and making something new. That is what God does with us.

Our resurrection is when our bodies are changed and we become immortal, which means that we are never able to die again.
 


Jesus Lived in the Moment
Q: If we are all saved and it is all God's work to choose us, why did Jesus get so angry with the Pharisees when they did not accept Him? What was the purpose of His denunciation of them?

A: Jesus got after the Pharisees for the same reason that we use our windshield wipers: He is living in the moment and reacting to the circumstances.

Here is what I mean. We know that rain comes from God. Right? And yet we still use our windshield wipers to get it the heck off our windshields. In other words, knowing that God is sovereign in everything doesn't mean we sit back and do nothing. We still react to things. Right? Engaging our wipers does not at all mean that we DON'T believe that rain is a gift from God.

Likewise with Jesus. He still vents His anguish and frustration as a man. He still laments that the people won't come to Him, even though HE KNOWS that His Father is keeping them from coming to Him.



Whew! You Can't Commit the "Unforgivable" Sin

Q:  What about the unforgivable sin against the Holy Ghost? It seems contradictory that Jesus died for all the sin of mankind bar one. Are you able to shed some light on this?

A: The so-called unforgivable sin is blaspheming the holy spirit. Jesus said that the sin of blaspheming the Son would be forgiven (and it was, from the cross), but if the spirit was blasphemed (that is, rejected), then there would be no forgiveness for that "neither in this eon, nor in that which is impending" (Concordant Version.) Simply put, the testimony of the spirit at Pentecost was the "last chance" that Israel had to accept Messiah. If they blew that (and they did), then they would be out of the 1000 yr. Kingdom. This would not preclude, of course, their being saved later. No one can even commit this sin today. It was a specific sin for a specific people at a specific time.


Moses: Still Dead as a Doornail

Q:
I agree with you that everybody that has died is dead, including Peter, Paul, David, etc. How is it that Moses and Elijah showed up in Matt 17:3: - "And lo! Moses and Elijah were seen by them, conferring with Him."

A: Great question. I had wondered about this myself. This event of the transfiguration was a vision. I believe it is specifically called a vision in the context. A vision is a picture of something that is not actually happening at the time. Notice the language: Moses and Elijah "were seen" by them. Moses and Elijah were not actually there, but were merely seen. This unusual case aligns with John's vision on Patmos (Rev.), at which time John is actually seeing things THAT DO NOT YET EXIST IN HIS TIME FRAME. This is the nature of a vision.

The people are SEEING something, but it is not actually happening. Now, yes, our Lord was actually transfigured at the time, but Elijah and Moses were a vision. Or I suppose it could be that the disciples were looking into a time of the future when Jesus would be with Moses and Elijah, actually, in the 1000 yr. kingdom.


News for the Jews
Q:  Can you shed some light on what Paul meant in Hebrews 10:26-27?  I'm assuming he is talking about temporal earthly judgment: "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left (Heb 10:26), but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God." (Heb 10:27).

A: This is admittedly a difficult passage. It is a verse written to Jews, which is key. (Not much grace here, so it sure ain't the gospel of the Uncircumcision.) If the Jews reject their Messiah, there is no other Messiah; they've missed the One and only; that's the gist of it, as I understand it. The fire and the consumption are real enough, but only eonian. All Israelites will eventually be with God for eternity due to the saving work of Christ--but only at the Consummation (1 Cor. 15:26), when death is abolished.


Judged in Death?

Q: I believe that God has opened my understanding of His Word by listening to you (and Dan) and through many other sources. Something I'm not clear on is the aionian chastening or pruning of unbelievers. I believe that happens after their resurrection and the White Throne judgment (in Rev. 20) but where does chastening take place? Is that when they are cast into the lake of fire? I assume we don't know how long the chastening is.

A: You just about answered your own question. All judgment of unbelievers takes place at the Great White Throne, while they are alive. It does NOT take place in the lake of fire, because that is DEATH, and no one can be judged in death.


Is
God in Charge, or Isn't He?
Q:
I like your humor. I agree with much of what you say, but God's foreknowledege seems a better way of looking at the issue of free will. (Crack O' Dawn 17) Does this not make God even bigger and better and incomprehensible? God has commanded man so many times. How can a command be obeyed if there is no free will? I actually reject the extremes of both views.

A: But it is God's foreknowledge that PROVES free will to be false. That's was my point of the last video. If you can admit that God knows everything before- hand, then there can be no such thing as human freedom.

How is this for an extreme viewpoint: "God gives to all, life and breath and all." And this: "In Him, we are living and moving and are." That's Acts 17:25-27. There is no middle ground here. You are on a fence, and it seems to me that what is keeping you there is your desire to have
some control in your life that God cannot touch. I encourage you to do some soul-searching on on this.

Your question, "Why would God tell people to do something if they were not free" is a good question. Here is the answer: Exhortations in scripture are not an opportunity for the human to show God what he can do, but an opportunity for God to show what He can do through the human.

Grace and peace.

You cannot have it both ways. Either free will is true, or it isn't.

Since God is the Potter and we are the clay, then free will is false.

   

Hallowed by the Wife
Q:
I understand from 1 Cor. 7 that I may win my husband through my gracious behavior, but what does it mean that my unbelieving husband is "sanctified/hallowed" by me (the believing wife)?  Holy means set apart, but what does that mean for my husband -- set apart for what?  I'm excited that he is set apart because he is pleased to stay with me, even though I don't know what it means. It's gotta be good.


A: It is good! It means that, because he is under your roof, he benefits from living in the sphere of the blessings God gives YOU. For instance, during the 1000-yr kingdom, there will be many citizens of earth who will not be ruling and reigning in Jerusalem They will not even be Israelites. And yet they will be benefiting by living on a non-cursed earth and enjoying the righteous rule of Israel. It has to do with coming under the influence of a person who is blessed and chosen by God. I hope this helps! I'm glad that God has given you a healthy perspective on your situation. Keep living your faith, and it will make an impression on your husband.



The Worst Kind of Evil

Q
. As far as children who suffer in this world...I will have to trust that God has glory for them that will surpass the evil brought upon them, but it is very hard to do!

A. I can't stand some of the stuff God does. Go ahead and get mad at Him; Job did. Job did not hold back. God can handle it. At least you go to the source, and do not give too much power to Satan. Job never addressed Satan once, even though Satan was the agent God used to effect the evil He wanted to come into Job's life.

You are right to believe that God is behind everything. That children get raped is horrible. I can't stand to think about it, and I usually don't. But the worst crime ever committed on the face of the earth was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. And we know from several verses in the early part of the book of Acts that this was in accord with the counsel and foreknowledge of God.  


This only proves that, if God is behind the worst evil, He is also behind lesser evils. Isaiah 45:7 says that God is the creator of evil. So what is the purpose? The purpose of all evil is contrast. Night contrasts day, and death contrasts life. The degradation of Christ contrasts His exaltation. Without the degradation, there is no exultation. We just have to bite the bullet during the degradation, and trust that the exultation will eclipse it--every time.

What I'm telling you is that the glory that we will one day see will be such that we will look at God and justify Him for every evil thing He did. We will say, "If this is what the evil bought, then it was a good trade-off." It is very hard--if not impossible--to say that now, especially in light of children being raped, but this is what I'm telling you about the glory. The reason we can't justify it now in our minds is that we have only the barest whiff of the glory. The glory is going to be way out of proportion to the evil, and dependent on the evil to make it glorious.

Can you see that this is where faith comes in? You have to believe that the glory is going to eclipse the evil, otherwise, you go mad. Even so, you may still go mad. But not as mad as people who don't have the answer. Evil sucks. I so often challenge God: "The glory better be good!" I say this to Him in light of the evil. I'm not God. I could not bring these evils. If there was another God who could promise us the same results of blessing and glory without the pain and evil, I'd embrace Him. But there is only One God. And He is Good.

Trust Him.

Grace and peace to you in the struggles we all feel.



Comfort From the Shepherd
Q. I
s it right to look at Jesus as the Good Shepherd -- to believe that He acted on our behalf as the prodigal son and brought us all home to His Father? I find it thrilling to see Christ acting on our behalf for all of humanity. I don't know if this is what Luke was saying, but in light of the cross and resurrection it just makes for so much comfort.

A. There are some things that we see in Jesus as the Good Shepherd that do apply to us today, and to the world, but you will not find the evangel of the grace of God in the image of the Good Shepherd. You will find that in Christ crucified. It was in His crucifixion that He took the sins of the world away.

The Good Shepherd has to do chiefly with Israel (Israel are always His sheep), and how He will lead them into the earthly pastures (that is, the millennial kingdom) promised them by Abraham.

The part of this that applies to universal salvation is that He will bring all to the Father. But, again, as the Good Shepherd does not show us the cross, we cannot see the evangel for today in the Good Shepherd.

But I see later that you say, "In light of the cross..." and yes, this is the key. As long as you are looking at the Good Shepherd IN LIGHT OF THE CROSS, then you can certainly take comfort in that.


No Elephants. No Donkeys
Q. I read in one Clanging Gong News (Vol. 2, Iss.2 ) about whether or not Christ could be a
Christian. So let me ask you this: Could Christ be a conservative? Would He be politically active anywhere in the world today or would He just be? I am not asking this as a progressive nor as a
conservative-- I am neither.


A. That's an excellent question. The answer, I believe, is, no, Christ would not be politically active anywhere in the world. As I like to say, neither the elephant or the donkey will rule the day; it will be the Lamb.

But until then, Conservatism is definitely the better system for humans to live under--as opposed to Communism.



"Holy Martin!"
Q.
Do you object to the term "holyman"? That's sort of how I think of you. You have a greater knowledge of the scriptures than me or most people I know. In ancient times that would make you a "holyman", that's why I used the term.

A. Holyman? I have no objection as long as one understands the meaning of the word "holy," which is "set apart." Holy has nothing to do with morality or worthiness, as certain vessels of the temple (inanimate objects) were termed "holy." To be holy is to be set apart by God for a purpose. So since I have been set apart by God for a purpose, and since I am a man, then I guess "holyman" does fit, though I doubt I'll be putting it on a vanity plate.


A Figurative Covenant
Q. Since the Jews are under the Old and New Covenants, are we, as gentiles, under any covenant or are we just partakers of the New Covenant?

A: We gentiles are under a covenant only in a figurative sense. The only place where Paul mentions a covenant for body believers is in 2 Cor. 3:6, where he says, "we are competent dispensers of a new covenant." Notice he doesn't say "THE new covenant," but rather "A new covenant." This is neither the Old Covenant or the New Covenant of Israel (we are under neither covenant). It is a figurative covenant in which God blesses the nations IN A LIKE MANNER as He will bless Israel in the New Covenant. What manner is that? In the New Covenant, God fulfills both sides of the covenant "deal"--His side and Israel's side. God fulfills everything for us as well, so we are dispensers of a covenant that is LIKE Israel's new covenant, but it isn't LITERALLY it. But Paul calls it a new covenant to RELATE IT to Israel's covenant.


Life Sucks, Then you Die
Q.
A certain gentleman once opined, "eternal bodily life would be a monotonous confinement one would hardly mete out to a sinner, much less a saint!" Since I have no desire whatsoever to live forever, I concur with this opinion. Will God force me to live forever, even though I have no desire to do so? This is an inescapable implication of Christian Universalism. Personal existence and life are burdensome and I, personally, look forward to oblivion. Tell me why would eternal life be preferable to the marvelous nothingness of oblivion?

A. The problem with existence in these bodies at this time is that we are living in the midst of an evil eon (Gal. 1:4). There is a saying that is pretty much apropos here, and it is: LIFE SUCKS, THEN YOU DIE. Who would want to live forever in this condition? You are taking what you know of this life and applying it to eternal life in God.

You think you would refuse to live forever with God if given the choice, because life here has sucked. But, there is no comparison. You will be glad to have eternal life in God when you see how different eternal life with God is different than, say, eternal life in Buffalo, NY--or wherever you may be.

See you there!


The Stubborn Can't See "Eonian" Life
Q.
Do you have an explanation for John 3:36?


A. In the Concordant Version, John 3:36 reads: "He who is believing in the Son has life eonian, yet he who is stubborn as to the Son shall not be seeing life, but the indignation of God is remaining on him."

It seems at first glance that this passage undoes the truth of the salvation of all, but it doesn't. It is true that whoever is stubborn as to the Son shall not be seeing life, and that the indignation of God is remaining on him. But it is also true that whoever is stubborn as to exercise shall not be seeing good health, and that layers of fat are remaining on him. But all this changes as soon as the person starts exercising. In the scriptural example, all of this is true as long as the person remains stubborn. When God removes the stubbornness, voila: life comes and the indignation of God melts away.

Everyone was once stubborn. Before we were believers, none of us could see life. Faithless people shall not have eonian life. But as soon as God gives them faith, they enter into it.

Of note: "shall not be seeing life" is much different from "shall never see life." The correct translation is "shall not see life." It is not a permanent state.

In John 1:38, Jesus is in Bethany. His disciples asked Him, "Where art Thou remaining?" He is saying to them, "Come and see." And so, "they came, then, and perceived where He is remaining, and they remain with Him that day." Does the fact that Jesus was then "remaining" in Bethany require Him to stay there forever? No, because verse 43 of the same chapter says that the next day Jesus went into Galilee.

The "ing" ending on verbs indicates the incomplete verb form; it's ongoing action that is true as long as it is happening, i.e., "I am writing." Six minutes from now, I may be leaving. Thus also with the "remaining" of John 3:36. The indignation of God remains until the moment it doesn't.


Starting Point For the Body of Christ
Q. I've noticed your strict distinction between the body of Christ, the Nation of Israel, and God's purposes for each. Do you believe the body of Christ started in mid Acts, after Paul was saved and NOT at Pentecost....which was obviously a Jewish event involving the re-offering of the Davidic Kingdom?

A: Yes, I do believe that the body of Christ began in mid-Acts at the calling of Paul. You are right in that there is no way the body could have begun at Pentecost, as that was strictly Jewish. This recognition of Paul's special ministry unlocks so many so-called mysteries in God's Word. There are no mysteries after all, only different things in different departments.


Being "Lost" is Not Eternal Separation From God

Q. To whom was Paul referring when he mentioned those that are lost (2 Cor.4:3)? What does it mean to be lost?

A. Those who are "perishing" (Concordant Version), or "lost" (in your version) are perishing and lost only for the eons. That is, they do not have eonian life. Not everyone lives through the upcoming 1000 year kingdom on earth, or during the new heavens and the new earth. But such people are not separated from God for eternity. That's the lie of Christianity. One must read into the verse to see the "lostness" as eternal separation from God. A sheep is lost until it is found. Likewise, these people will be lost and perishing up until the time God reveals Himself to them and brings them home. Weren't we once lost? Indeed. And then, one day, we weren't. Same with these people.

Now THAT'S a gospel.



Letting Go and Trusting God

Q. Thank you for Christ's freedom you give in your writings. I feel like I'm free and in such a wide open space.  There is so much freedom that I'm afraid (really) to let go and give God control. How do I really let Him have His way in my life? I am in constant fear. What if my kids lives are ruined? 

I want so very much to trust Him!

A. Letting go is hard. Have you considered that maybe you should let go of the need to let go? Maybe you should be more forgiving of yourself and the fact that you are still fearful. I once made a tape called "At peace with not being at peace," and this is one of the greatest revelations I've ever enjoyed, that we need to be accepting of our not-so-perfect frames. You need to say: "God, I know that only You can give me the strength to really let go and let you have Your way in my life. But I also know that, at the moment, me being afraid IS Your way for my life. If You could see clear, please deliver me of my fear, because I don't like being this way. But if being afraid is for some reason part of Your present calling for me, then let me be at peace with not being at peace. All is of You!"

Maybe you need to let go of your desire to let go! Forgive yourself. When God is ready, He'll do a marvelous work in this department. Keep asking God about it, but keep telling Him that you are willing to be the weakened vessel He needs you to be.


Eonian Life
Q. If eonian represents a period of "time", then how do we ever receive anything for an extended period of time?  For example, in II Corinthians 5:1-2, we are to receive our tabernacle not made with hands, "eonian" in the heavens.  I'm assuming that we get that forever, he's not going to take it back after a bit.  Right?

Another one is same chapter in verse 14...if he died for the sake of all, consequently all died.  I believe in the reconciliation of all things and I know that includes everything. How does one deal with the  repercussions of standing in front of the dais in chapter 5:10? I know that Christ has paid the price for whatever we do, but, how is it fair for one who God gives understanding to today, and for the one that does not hear until standing in front of Him?

A. As for your eonian question, having eonian life (that is, life that sees us through to a time when there is nothing but life) does not mean that we don't have eternal life, any more than having enough water to make it to a well (where there is nothing but water) means that we die of thirst.

When we stand before the dais of Christ, we are not judged, but rather adjusted. We do not come into judgment. The dais of Christ will be a good thing for us, because it will deliver us of any bad things we may have done in the flesh. Christ paid the price for our sin, and we are not judged for sin here. The best way I can put it is: practical adjustment. It won't hurt. We'll be glad for it.

Unbelievers at the Great White Throne (GWT), however, are judged. But even this is for their benefit. God's judgments are always right, remember that. They are for the benefit of the ones judged. It is nevertheless true that Jesus Christ took care of their sins as well, but they have a bit more education to endure than we will have. We are getting our tough schooling here; for unbelievers, it will occur at the GWT.

All of this comes under the umbrella of God's justice. We undergo judgment now, unbelievers will undergo it later. Nevertheless, we will still require a practical adjustment, and this occurs at the dais of Christ, not at the GWT.


Cursing?

Q. What does it really mean to take the Lord's name in vain?

A. The term "in vain" means "for futility," and that's how the Concordant Version of the OT renders it. Someone who trains for the Olympics "in vain" has no hopes of getting there. What does this have to do with saying, "God damn?" Nothing at all. People who take the Lords' name in vain in this sense call themselves "godly" or "Christians" or "of Him," but they are really neither thing. They are pretenders; posers. They believe feignedly, as Paul writes in 1 Cor. 15:2. Why anyone would want to name Christ or God but not really believe Him is another matter. Some people don't try to do it, but this is where they are. You know these kinds of people. They say all the right words and go to all the right church services, but they just don't have a heart for God or truth. They believe church doctrines INSTEAD of truth. These people are taking His name (calling themselves "Christians") in vain.
(See also: Crack O' Dawn Report - Good News For Those Who Cuss)


Needing Church for Biblical Grounding

Q. I was just turned on to your site. It disappoints me to hear of your attack of the church. I really do understand the failings of the church in general, but you are throwing the baby out with the bath water.

We need the church, if for nothing else, to have accountability and spiritual authority over us.  EVERYONE that I have seen abandon the church for their own "fellowship" loses their biblical grounding and goes down a rabbit trail of non biblical weirdness. A good example of this is our own Colorado Springs resident John Eldredge of Journey of Desire fame. He has started with a great truth of God and twisted it into a non-biblical heresy....probably because he is not under any spiritual authority other than what he deems is necessary.  I refer you to 1 Corinthians  10:12.

So you think you are standing firm? Be careful that you do not fall.

A. Thanks for writing. I'm glad you understand the failings of the church. You realize, then, that not the least of these failings is the church's doctrines. The standard Christian church teaches eternal torment and salvation by human will power (free will), which are two very ungodly doctrines. There is no baby here; it's all bath water.

I understand the need for accountability. I am accountable to my wife. I am accountable to my children. I am accountable to my spiritual friends. I am accountable to God. I am accountable to Christ. Why do you think I would have to go to an institutional religious assembly to find accountability? I'm up to my neck in it, and I haven't gone to church in twenty-five years.

Jesus Christ is my spiritual authority.

I know hundreds of people who have abandoned the church, and they are thriving spiritually. Please don't think that abandoning the religious institutions of men means abandoning other human beings. People who leave the religious institutions of men still gather for informal meetings and discussions. It is not Christ that is abandoned, or fellowship, or Bible study; all these good things are preserved. What is discarded is the killing influence of an institutional body that is more interested in preserving itself than in following Christ; more interested in tradition than in truth.

1 Corinthians 10:12 applies to all of us.



The Great Tribulation
Q. I listened to the Frankly Speaking Radio broadcast from March 4. There you said, pretty much at the end of the fourth hour, that, in reply to a question related to the rapture of the body of Christ, some will be snatched away before the coming of indignation and some will be going trough it. Maybe I construed your statement wrongly, but if I take it thus it's a statement I've never heard before and couldn't verify with scripture.

When I read the passage in Ephesians that the believers in Christ are pre-expectant, and in the first letter to the Thessalonians that we are to be rescued out of the coming indignation, I cannot but believe the statement to be wrong. I might be indiscriminate here.

A. You are certainly correct about Ephesians; believers in Christ are pre-expectant and we are to be rescued out of the coming indignation. The believers I mention who will be going through the day of indignation are the circumcision believers, among whom are the 144,000. These will be sealed and kept THROUGH the time of trouble. And so I am distinguishing between members of the body of Christ, and members of the bride of the Lamb, all of whom are believers. (I did not go into such detail on Frank's show-but maybe I should have, as yours has not been the first question on this.) This arrangement is entirely practical. As it is the mission of the body of Christ to minister among the celestials, then they are taken there. As Israel is to head up the earth for the duration of the Millennium, they are left on the earth. Simple, huh? 

Thanks for writing. It proves you're thinking!


Q. On Frankly Speaking Radio (March 4th broadcast), I heard you say that some believers will go through the great tribulation. I am not sure what you mean by that. I believe that my expectation to be snatched away is sealed otherwise it would not be an expectation. So my question is, what believers are you referring to?

A. I was referring to those believers among the circumcision who will be alive at the time of the end. They will not be snatched away because they are not members of the body of Christ. Included among these believers are the 144,000, who are sealed on their foreheads in order to go THROUGH the day of indignation. Your expectation is sealed, of course. The Body of Christ goes to heaven, the believing Israelites stay on Earth. It's all very practical, you see. What a revelation this was to me.


Death by Fire

Q. I have just read 2 Thessalonians 1 6-10 in about nine different versions. Even the Young's Literal speaks of flaming fire...destruction age-during for not obeying the good news. What is your take on these passages and how does the Concordant Literal read on these passages? Thanks for your time.

A. My take on the passage is that those who are 1) not given faith to believe the evangel and 2) take it upon themselves to afflict the saints, and 3) are alive to see the day of the return of Christ to earth, will be killed with fire.

The key to the passage, as you suspect, is verse 9, which in the Concordant Version reads "eonian extermination from the face of the Lord." This is not eternal extermination by any stretch. These people will die in the fire, and in death will experience no pain or suffering or passage of time. Death is akin to sleeping. Next thing they know, they will be standing at the great white throne, to be judged there by a righteous God. They will then be returned to death (the second death; they are not appointed to live during the final eon, which will pass without their consciousness.) Next thing they know, they will rise to spend eternity with God at the consummation, when death is abolished (1 Cor. 15:26). Thus, they will have become a part of the "all in all" (1 Cor. 15:28) that God is destined to become.



To Tithe or Not to Tithe
Q. Do you think tithing is Biblical? Do you tithe? And if so, seeing as you do not belong to a formal, "institutionalized" church, to where do you distribute your money? Just wondering.

A. Yes, tithing is Biblical, but then so is killing lambs. My point is that what is Biblical is not necessarily something we should be doing today. Tithing is part of the law of Moses, which is DEFINITELY not for us. The apostle Paul continually warned people not to put themselves under law. Read 2 Cor. Chapter 3, and the whole book of Galatians.

Besides, the tithe went to the Levites only, who ministered to the temple. So it's impossible even for an Israelite to tithe today (there is no temple service in operation), let alone a man of the nations to whom the law of Moses never came.  

I do not tithe. If someone wants to give 10% of their income (as a rule of thumb) to bless someone, then I'm all for it. But let them not say that they are obeying the law of Moses.

Paul exhorts me in 2 Cor. 9:7 to be a gleeful giver. This is giving that accompanies a good heart. It is the opposite of compulsion, which was the Moses method. Back in my days of government employ, however, I used to give away hundreds of dollars at a time-but never to a church! My wife and I used to put hundreds of dollars in unmarked envelopes into the glove boxes of people who we knew needed the money. Whenever I can pay my bills comfortably again, I'll be giving money away again just like in the old days--but never to institutions, and especially not religious ones.



Speaking in Parables

Q. I have always wondered why Jesus spoke in parables instead of just saying what he meant plainly.

A. Jesus spoke in parables, not to illuminate the masses, but so the masses would remain confused. While Jesus did explain parables to His disciples, He did not explain them to the masses. Witness Matthew 13:11, which is Jesus' answer to the question, "Wherefore art Thou speaking in parables to them?" Jesus: "To you has it been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of the heavens, yet to those it has not been given." He was not "adding to the kingdom" at this time, but was prophesying concerning His death. There was a time to proclaim the kingdom, and a time to proclaim His death. The kingdom was re-proclaimed by the disciples at Pentecost.


Finding Comfort Outside of the Scriptures
Q. What is your opinion of the Gnostic writings, specifically the Gospel of Thomas? Do you believe them to be inspired? If not, why?

I take great comfort in these writings.

A. I do not believe the Gnostic writings to be inspired, and that includes the Gospel of Thomas. I put no stock in them whatsoever. I'm glad you find comfort in them, but it would be similar to the way in which one might take comfort in something from the Chicken Soup series.

The 66 books of the Bible are structurally perfect. If you are unfamiliar with the miraculous structure of scripture, pick up Bullinger's Companion Bible. You will be amazed to find out that the 66 books are arranged in a perfect, miraculous way, and any other book thrown into the mix throws the whole thing off.



Satan Leading Folks Astray
Q. If all are saved through the Sacrifice of Jesus, regardless of belief, what is the Devil accomplishing by tricking or leading others astray? What's the point?

A. It is not that all are saved regardless of belief, but that God will eventually grant proper belief to all. The point of Satan leading people astray is that God needs vessels of dishonor in order to properly display His vessels of honor. Without one, we could not know the other. 1 Cor. 11:19 is an excellent passage demonstrating this: "For it must be that there are sects also among you, that those also who are qualified may be becoming apparent among you." Geniuses cannot shine but for idiots. In the end, however, both idiots and geniuses are saved, because Christ died to save ALL sons of Adam. Besides, Satan cannot do anything to undo what Christ did at Calvary, but he can sure keep a lot of people from knowing about it. Satan's tricks are not keeping people from eternal life, but from eonian life.


Hope in Grace

Q. I am now divorced, and have been in the fight of my life. Please, tell me that in this world there is hope for those who really believe in grace. I know that wisdom is justified by all her children. However, I feel like the biggest loser of all, for attempting to live my beliefs. The ex says that we still have to live in this world, and that requires a constant reminder that the age of grace is yet to come. I hope that I haven't become so reprobate that even Jesus refuses to claim me as his own!

A. Stand in grace! You are the farthest thing from a loser. God has called you early to be a part of His intimate family. This blessing is wholly because of Jesus Christ's work on the cross, and not on anything you have or haven't done. Please read 2 Tim. 1:9. You have not been chosen because of your works. God actually likes you. Grace has arrived. This is much more than a hope. Hope is such a weak word. We have an expectation, not a hope. We EXPECT God to do what He promises. God loves such faith as this, and you have it. Don't doubt it.


Free Will to Reject Christ
Q. On one level no one has free will even in the natural order of things because every decision people make is affected by a myriad of factors and influences. I do think however that based on our understanding we do have an element of free will to make a choice for God but that we have no free will to ultimately reject him.

What are your thoughts?

A. Your statement is contradictory. If we have no free will to reject Christ, then that must mean He is responsible for us accepting Him. And if He is responsible for us accepting Him, then the credit goes to Him and not to our free wills. In other words: given these two choices only, what is the difference between not rejecting Him and accepting Him? No difference. If there is no free will with the latter, there is none with the former.

Humans have no element of free will whatsoever.

Take comfort in this.



Caught in a Trap of Legalism

Q. Thank you for your site and literature. I go to a very legalistic Calvary Chapel church. The problem is that my wife and kids have to sit thru a performance-based sermon and hear about hell all the time. It depresses me and I know it affects my family though I'm able to sift thru the garbage coming from the pulpit. I haven't told my family that I believe in universal reconciliation and wonder what they would think if I did tell them.  How can I gracefully incorporate what Christ has done into their lives without them thinking I've lost my marbles?

We're caught in a trap, as Elvis would sing. Can you give me some advice?

A. You're in a difficult situation, that's for sure. Jesus Himself could come to your church disguised as a modern-day pilgrim, and they'd kick Him out. He'd tell them the truth, and they'd give Him the right foot of fellowship.

Your family is another story. You must tell them your conviction; tell them the truth. It is people who believe in eternal torment who have lost their marbles, not you. Help your wife and kids regain their marbles. Tell them that you believe in the success of the Cross. Tell them that you believe Christ is greater than Adam. Tell them that you believe Jesus Christ is greater than Satan. If they say, "We believe all that, too," show them how they really don't. Give them verses like 1 Tim. 4:10, 1 Cor. 15:22, 1 Tim. 2:6, Col. 1:20, Eph. 1:10, Rom. 11:32, 36, and Rom. 5:18. Tell them about the eons. Buy my book MARTIN ZENDER GOES TO HELL and read it to them. Or have them read it. Become a teacher in your house. You are responsible for teaching your family. Be courageous. Be firm. Wishy-washy is out. Don't apologize for what you believe. If anyone should apologize, they should; they believe in a doctrine that Satan invented. Don't make your loved ones feel bad about this, but do tell them that doctrines of demons are not something you want in your house or their hearts. Buy my book HOW TO QUIT CHURCH WITHOUT QUITTING GOD and read it to your family in the evenings. Make a thing of it. Prepare hot drinks for everyone, then begin reading. Make sure the lighting is good. Set a mood. God will bless you.

As your family begins to see truth, the lot of you will want to wean yourselves away from the church. This is a good thing. When your family members become believers and start to see the hypocrisy and falsehoods at the church, it will be time to leave.

I hope I have said helpful things.

Thanks for writing, and God bless you.



Confused. Need a Concordant Version
Q.
I don't know ANYONE who will want to talk to me about the things I read in your books. I'll only be chastised or be sat down for a good programming session. For the past two years, I have had this gnawing discontent with "church," and I'm becoming more and more disillusioned with doctrine and things I don't think are scriptural. 

I'm confused now, more than I was before, but I can't stop thinking about the things I've read in your books.

I can't find a Concordant bible in the Christian bookstores, they only carry KJV, NKJV, NIV and ASB. What other bible is word for word translation?

A. The reason you're confused now is not because the truth is confusing. The truth is simple. The confusion comes because of the conflict between truth and what you once believed. Your discontent with the church is evidence of the spirit of God moving within you. How can God be contained within four walls? Who dares to limit God and the work of Christ? You have known this--it's a spiritual sensitivity--and it's why you seem to be marching to the beat of a different drummer. But you're not. This is the true beat. Those who have grown comfortable with institutional religion are the ones out-of-step. They are the ones needing reprogramming.

This is all about looking and searching and finding answers. Why is it that the institution becomes nervous when you begin to seek--to really seek? Because they're afraid of what you might find. But I encourage everyone I know to study like crazy, to ask questions, to probe. Along that line, my website has a link to the Concordant Publishing Concern, where you can order a Concordant Literal New Testament. Read all you can from my web-site. Listen to all the sound files--there are many, many hours of solid teaching with a lot of fun thrown in. I'm certainly not the end-all of knowledge and would never claim to be, but I have learned a lot from studying on my own, as well as reading a lot of different things from others. I have kept the good stuff and thrown out the bad. I have tested it all against scripture. I have not believed anything that cannot be backed up in scripture and easily demonstrated to someone else, anyone who has an open mind. 

I am glad you can't stop thinking about the things you have read. The spirit of God is working in you. Keep pressing.


No Hell
Q.
What about this verse in regards to your view that there is no "hell" as Christianity terms it: Jesus commanded: "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).

This verse is translated from the NIV, but I am wondering about your thoughts on it.

A. People tend to read things into the word "condemned." They assume Jesus is talking about an eternity of fiery torment. But there are no flames in the premises of the context. The word "condemn" is from the Greek word
katakrino. This is a two-part Greek word: kata="down" and krino="judged." The literal meaning of this word, then, is "down judge." It is an adverse judgment. For example, a bank robber is condemned to ten years in prison (a "down-judgment") as opposed to being made president of the bank, which would be a favorable judgment. (What happens to him after his condemnation? After ten years in jail, he gets out. The word condemnation itself carries no suggestion of eternal consequence.)

My book on hell will cause you to see that, while on Earth, Jesus proclaimed the thousand-year kingdom, in which Israel would rule the world. He Himself claimed again and again that He came proclaiming this Kingdom. Whoever believed His message and were baptized into it, would be saved and enter into the kingdom. Entrance into the kingdom is the salvation of the context. Nothing is said here of eternal life or eternal condemnation. Conversely, whoever rejected the message would be condemned (
katakrino, "down-judged"), and the condemnation of the context--while not explicitly stated in this context--is refused entry into the kingdom. The question you need to ask, and the question that will be answered plainly and simply for you in my upcoming book, is: What happens to the people who are refused entrance into the thousand-year kingdom? Are they banished forever from the presence of God? I'll give you a sneak preview of the answer: "No!"


Churchgoing Teen
Q: Okay, God is in control, but I need to live like I am steering the ship. What do you do about your kids?  My 16 year old daughter is getting swallowed by the church. I don't want to see her swallowed up by the legalism, blackmailed by her attitude of servitude, short-stopped from being herself. She has always loved being cozy.  She is building this little Christian world around herself right now. She is isolating herself from "the world" she isn't living in. She is not involved in drugs, she's a virgin, she's a morally centered young lady, and I here am complaining. I'm scared.

I am confused. I can't see my plan of action here. She is embarrassed by me because I don't go to church.  I am sure "her mom" has been the subject of a few "prayer circles". I really want to influence God where she is concerned. If I follow your line of reasoning correctly, I need to let the chips fall where they may; God's got it under control. This evil is for her good?  So God's got her in His hand; I don't necessarily need to worry about whether I am doing the right thing or not. Even if I do the wrong thing He's got it figured out.  I always wonder if "God's Plan" is an outline, or a script. Does He really care down to the tiniest detail, or do some of us just get swept away in the execution of it all?

A. I don't think you should just sit around and do nothing. Just because God is in control doesn't mean you give in. Example: God sends the rain, but I still use my windshield wipers. Lesson: Just because something is of God doesn't mean we have to let it be. Still, I would not do anything rash. As you say, there are many good things happening with your daughter. Have you suggested that she read my books? That may be a start. Make sure she knows what you believe, and why. I wouldn't bug her (it will make matters worse), but let her know what you think. Since she is 16, it would be counterproductive to forbid her to go to church activities. It is always my recommendation to keep kids twelve years-old and under out of organized religion. It's our responsibility as parents to keep kids from organized religion, just as it is our responsibility to keep them from playing in traffic. But at a certain age, I wonder if this works. At sixteen, a person almost needs to find out for her/himself. However, your daughter DOES need to know that there is an alternative. Give her my books. Maybe better, just sit her down and have a nice calm conversation with her. Let her know there are options. Ultimately, yes, God is behind this and will work it out for good. But again, that doesn't mean we don't get our hands in there and try to do it "ourselves." God's will is worked THROUGH our actions (or inactions) not in spite of them. We are to live in the relative (live as if it's all up to us), but believe in the absolute (that nothing can happen apart from God.) I hope this makes sense to you. We are not fatalists.


Hello God
This is "God" calling: As a Christian, your comments tug at my heart. They are true and have the integrity of your sincere, unapologetic approach. But, since the apostles were screw-ups and went down the wrong road numerous times with the information Jesus gave them--as did David, Moses and dare I say, Paul too--then you must be wrong about something doctrinally, don't you think? I pray you have not fallen into the trap that you accuse others of, namely perfection. As long as I know you are not 100% right, I will continue to listen. Bless You for Doubting.

A. Dear God,

I am absolutely, thoroughly convinced that I am not and never could be 100% right on everything. Thank you for checking up on me, and for loving me in spite of my flaws.

Your faithful screw-up,

Martin


Punishment for Sins
Q.
Since Jesus died for our sins, how can we (saved or unsaved) be punished for them in any way? I am not talking about the hell idea, but some kind of punishment from God.

A.
We are not punished for our sins; not at all. Christ took away all sin at the cross. It is true, however, that we reap what we sow in the flesh. That is, if we sin by overeating, we'll get fat. But obesity is not punishment from God; it's a natural consequence of doing wrong.

God sees us through the sacrifice of Christ. It is true that we will appear at the dais of Christ ("judgment seat" in the KJV), but this is not punishment, it is requital for things done in the body, whether good or bad.
It will be for our ultimate benefit. I think of it as an adjustment, where all will be made well with us. It is nothing even remotely close to punishment.


Kingdom of Heaven
Q.
Can you explain Matt. 7:21-23? Is there a difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God? Does this all correlate in with the Great Commission?

A.
The Kingdom of the Heavens refers specifically to the thousand-year kingdom. The Kingdom of God is a broader term, used of God's rule in general. This is the way I understand it. The shocking thing about Matthew 7:21-23 is that some who are convinced they are first in line for the thousand-year kingdom will not be there. Naming the name of Christ is not enough. Is the message of Christ believed? That's obviously the important thing.


Gifts of the Spirit
Q. What is your belief on the gifts of the spirit? I know many people, including myself, who feel the same way you do on a lot of the issues you write about. I pray for you and your family and the work the Father has given you.  I feel you are so outrageous, you've got to be a prophet!  I don't want to miss Him when He passes by...

A. Concerning the gifts, in 1 Cor. 13:8, Paul says that prophecies will be discarded, as well as "tongues." This will happen (verse10) "whenever maturity may be coming." I believe in the gifts, I just think that they are a sign of immaturity. Some people believe, for instance, that unless a person speaks in tongues, that person is not spiritual. But in truth, the spiritual person has moved on from tongues (if that person ever had the gift in the first place) into a more spiritual walk that does not require signs and wonders. There is a mature walk where you don't need to see or experience a healing in order to love God. In fact, early in his ministry, Paul healed people. But you will notice that as his ministry matured, he did not heal. He left Trophimus sick in Miletus, and for Timothy's stomach ailment he recommended wine. There is something greater than the gifts, and that is love (verse nine on). That is, we love God no matter if He decides to heal or not. We don't have to see or experience some "wonder" in order to believe. 

P.S. I may be outrageous at times, yes, but I am not a prophet! 


Dying an Unbeliever
Q.
I am a former churchaholic, and your books helped me feel than I am OK for not attending anymore. I have struggled with feelings of guilt and the Christian community certainly doesn't support anyone being a "lone ranger".  The statement you made -- in the context of those not believing in Jesus now -- was that it wasn't their time to believe, but they would believe either in this life or the next. Are you saying that if we die unbelievers we have another chance? Could you give scripture? Also, regarding the whole question of hell -- I am confused by your statements. I have always been taught that unbelievers are doomed to it along with the devil and his demons.  

I really did like your books and hope you have more in the works.


A. It’s not that anyone has "another chance" to believe after this life, but that salvation is not a thing of chance in the first place. Jesus is the Savior of all mankind, especially of believers (1 Timothy 4:10). Those who are especially saved in this context are those to whom God gives belief now, in this life. These will be alive during the coming thousand-year kingdom, as well as during the new heavens and new earth. Others (who have not been given faith yet) will be dead. Yet these must be given faith sometime, else Jesus cannot be the Savior of all mankind. They are given faith and vivified at a time called the consummation. Read about this in 1 Corinthians 15:26. In fact, verses 21-28 of this important chapter will acquaint you with the fact that Christ will make all alive, yet each in their own order. I believe that’s verse 22.

Another good passage for you is 1 Timothy 2:6, which speaks of Christ giving Himself a Ransom for all, the testimony in its own eras—the important phrase is "in its own eras." Everyone comes, just not at once. You’re not confused about what I said about hell (the facts), but about what you’ve heard about hell (the fiction) which clashes with what I said about it. The hell of Christian tradition is totally false. Hell is in the Bible, but it is not the fiery torture chamber Christianity makes it to be. Jesus spoke of the judgment of Gehenna (translated "hell" in the KJV and elsewhere), which will be a fiery repository for the corpses of criminals during the millennium (corpses, not screaming mummies). Peter speaks of tartarus (translated "hell" in the KJV and elsewhere), which is a temporary jail for sinning angels, not humans. And finally, hades (translated "hell" in the KJV and elsewhere) is simply the state of invisibility, often used figuratively for the grave. It has nothing to do with flames or torture or eternity. The concept of eternity itself is unscriptural, as the word aion (from which our common translations get "forever" and "eternity") has totally to do with time. Please see my articles concerning the eons elsewhere on this website. Everything will make sense!

Thanks for reading. I’m glad you liked the book. Thank God, you’re on the right track.


God Has Chosen
Q. If God has already decided who He will call upon in this lifetime and who He will reveal Himself to, then what exactly is the purpose of the Great Commission? If God’s will cannot be thwarted, then there is nothing that you or I can say to anyone that will change whether or not God will draw that person to himself (in this lifetime). Given that, why must we still preach the gospel? 

A. The "Great Commission," as it is called, is a message for Israel for the thousand-year kingdom. At the end of Matthew, Jesus told His disciples to make disciples of all the nations. They never did it. Either he misjudged their ability, or this charge was meant to be fulfilled at a later time. The answer is: It is for a later time, namely, the millennium. Jesus said, "I will be with you always, to the end of the eon." He immediately left, leaving me certain that the disciples were not meant to accomplish the commission then, but later, when Jesus returns. Israel will be head of the nations then.

Which doesn’t really answer your question as to why we must still preach the gospel today, if everyone is going to be saved. Here’s the simple answer: That everyone is going to be saved is the gospel. You are confused by the traditional gospel--the wrong one--which says, "hurry up and believe or God is going to torment you for eternity." This is no gospel at all. That "gospel" would be inconsistent with the truth of Jesus’s work on the behalf of humanity, namely, that He saves them all—1 Tim. 4:10. The true gospel is the announcement that God is conciliated (at peace) with the world through the work of Christ. 2 Cor. 5:18-19. The fact that all mankind will be saved is consistent with this gospel. More than that, it's the logical conclusion of it.


Blessings From Church
Q. I go to a small evangelical Christian church (I don’t want to name the denomination), and get lots of blessing out of it. Apparently, you have never been to such a church.

A. Remember from the book How to Quit Church that the definition of the word church is: "called out." A church is nothing more than a called out body of people. With this definition in mind, I do belong to a church; I meet at someone’s home with other believers twice a month. But besides this, I belong to the body of Christ, which is its own called-out group. If you get a true, godly blessing out of your denominational church, then great. The holy spirit can work everywhere, even in a religious institution. But this happens in spite of the institution, not because of it.

What is the source of your satisfaction with this church? Is it the music? The fellowship? I guarantee it’s not the doctrine, because the standard "evangelical" doctrine at your church (human free will, eternal torment, the whole "hurry up and believe or be damned" thing) could in no way bless you. The best denominational churches today are the ones that rarely mention the contradictory, damn-full things they believe. Frankly, many denominations are deep down embarrassed (or at least puzzled) about their own hypocritical teachings, and I do give them credit for that. I have a pointed question for you now: Are you seeking to know Christ at this church, or are you looking for personal fulfillment, a thing that many people mistakenly refer to as "being blessed"?


No Doctrine Disputes
Q. We never argue about doctrine at my church. Doctrine divides, and the church is about togetherness. Why are you so concerned about doctrine?

A. Whether you realize it or not (apparently you don’t), you, too, are concerned about doctrine. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God is doctrine. That Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead is doctrine. That Jesus Christ took away the sin of the world is doctrine. Doctrine is just a compact term for teachings about God. Doctrine is not what you want to avoid; it’s bad doctrine that you want to steer clear of.

That you never argue about doctrine tells me that your church is not much into knowing Christ. The orthodox, traditional teachings concerning Christ in most Christian churches are all wrong. This claim sounds fantastic, but I back it up in my book; I ask you to look again at page 108 in How to Quit Church Without Quitting God. The most God-defiling doctrine ever devised by Satan is the doctrine of eternal torment. It is a false doctrine, to be sure. Why am I so concerned about it? Because this doctrine has turned millions and millions of people from ever wanting to know God. In the Middle Ages, this doctrine inspired the wholesale slaughter of thousands of so-called heathen by the Roman Catholic Church, all in the name of God.

Human free will is another erroneous traditional teaching that gives man, rather than Christ, the ultimate power of salvation. In essence, free will states:
You are saved by the exercise of your will power. Salvation by will power. Hmm. Do you see anything wrong with that? Martin Zender does. So tell me, instead of arguing about these vital themes connected with God’s nature and power, just what do you do at your church? Pray for each other? Sing songs? Read poetry? Hug? Dance? I hope you’re happy. In the meantime, the world curses God because of what your happy little club stands for ("Join us or perish.") Sorry if I sound so upset, but I am upset. You are like the Pharisees who wanted to preserve the system ("togetherness") at all cost, even at the cost of truth.


Are You a Universalist, or Aren't You?
Q. I’m confused. First you say in your book that you believe God is the Savior of all mankind. Then you say you’re not a Universalist. But isn’t a Universalist one who believes that everyone is saved?

A. Perhaps the term Universalist used to describe, in a vague kind of way, a person who believed that Jesus Christ will reconcile the universe to God through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). But today it describes a person who belongs to the Universalist-Unitarian religion. Ugh. Just the name of it gives me the creeps. Universalist-Unitarians may believe that everyone returns to God some day, but it’s how they arrive at their conclusion that is revolting to me.

Members of this religion, as far as I’ve been able to discover, do not believe in judgment. I, on the other hand, believe in all the judgments in scripture—the judgment of Gehenna, the judgment of the sheep and the goat nations in Matthew, chapter 25, the great white throne judgment, the lake of fire. But I believe what God has to say about these judgments (I pay attention to every detail of the accounts concerning them), not to what tradition has led us to believe He is saying. Secondly, Universalist-Unitarians do not see the necessity of the cross. As far as I’ve been able to discern, they believe that man is too good to be damned. They do not see the need for the sacrifice of a representative Man (Jesus Christ) for the sin of the world, therefore they do not base their beliefs on the blood shed for the world at Calvary. Thirdly, Universalist-Unitarians do not revere the Word of God. They treat Scripture as just another source of information in one’s quest for truth. Since you have read my books, you certainly know how important the Word of God is to me. I study God’s Word reverently, in minute detail. It is the spirit of God that causes me to believe what I read there. And so, needless to say, I do all I can to distance myself from the Universalist-Unitarian church, a strange and unholy conglomerate if ever there was one.


Quit Church?
Q. I don't like the title of your book "How to Quit Church Without Quitting God". How can anyone quit church, when the church is a body of people that gathers to worship God and Christ?

A. Hold on there, Pilgrim. You’re way ahead of the game. You already know that church is a body of people. That’s great, but look—you’re in the minority. Most people think that church is something you "go to" every Sunday. The title of my book uses the word church as it is commonly perceived, that is, as a building, as an institution, and as an official organization recognized by man. It is this that I want people to quit, not the body of Christ. Now do you like the title of my book?


Home-Church Movement
Q. In How to Quit Church, you promote gathering at home. This is what the home-church movement is all about. Are you working with leaders of the home-church movement? 

A. No. They wouldn’t have me if I wanted to. You may be surprised to hear that I am generally opposed to the home-church movement. I have looked into some of the writings of Gene Edwards, who is supposed to be one of the fathers of this movement. (In fact, Gene Edwards called my publisher requesting a copy of my book, and it was after this that I started investigating the matter. What Gene thinks of my book, I don’t know. I wrote him over a month ago, but he hasn’t answered).

The home-church movement is good in that it has recognized the stifling nature of institutional religion, and the nasty habit of institutional pastors to horde power and control people. The problem is that this movement has overhauled only the outward form of the Christian religion; it sees nothing wrong with the religion itself. But as you learned in my book, the Christian religion is in full apostasy mode, and its teachings are infested with hypocrisy. But back to the home-church movement: Instead of carrying on the apostasy in a church building, this movement is carrying it on in people’s houses. In other words, they’ve dragged the corpse to a new location. Oh, boy. And they call this a revolution? It’s the same hypocritical mess under a new roof.

This movement is heavy on "feel good" worship, light on doctrine. Logic is presented as a scourge to be avoided. (It is mistakenly assumed in this camp that logical is the opposite of spiritual, when in reality soulish is the opposite of spiritual. The opposite of logical is illogical. Anybody want to be illogical? If not, then logical is your only alternative.) Gene Edwards writes, "I did not depart evangelical theology. The historical doctrines of the Protestant faith are mine for as long as I live. What I left was the practice of evangelical Protestantism." I wrote Gene and said: "But what if the historical doctrines of the Protestant faith are just as wrong as the historical pews and pastors? The Christian church is in apostasy, and this includes its teachings (its doctrines) as well as its ceremonies.

"If nothing else, Gene, please read Chapter 5 of How to Quit Church Without Quitting God. If you truly do still hold to evangelical theology, then the world will still account you as a hypocrite (see page 108), right along with the pew-bound evangelicals. Location is not everything. It looks to me like you have transferred the apostasy from church to home. You have dragged the skeleton to a new address."

As I said, Gene hasn’t written me back. I still hope to hear from him.


&%*#$!!
Q. Why do you use cuss words in your books? 

A. My goal is to write an honest books. And honestly, when my emotions run high or I’m hot on a particular subject, certain of these words come easily to mind. This is probably because I used to cuss like crazy when I was a teenager. In my opinion, there are still instances in life when there’s just no worthy substitute for a good (bad) four-letter word. (Banging one’s head on a tree limb is such an instance. Writing about religion is another.)

God and I have an understanding about this flaw of mine, so it’s no big deal between Him and me. As the saying goes: God isn’t finished with me yet. In writing, as well as in speaking, it’s the sparing use of these words that give them their impact. Not that I think ahead of time, "I want to make an impact here." I never think that way. None of the "questionable" words in my books are premeditated. In writing, the idea is to let your mind loose and let your emotions pour out, then go back later and edit; you don’t want to edit while in the creative mode; you need to let yourself be free. So I’ll let something rip in the heat of writing and think, I'll delete that later, probably. Then comes the editing process, and most of the rougher stuff does come out. I often wrestle with myself over many a passage: to edit or not to edit—that’s the question. To delete the strong word sometimes weakens the sentence, devitalizes it, and makes it less honest than it was when I originally wrote it. If a word survives eleven or twelve edits (and Melody), it usually stays in. (Okay, I sometimes overrule Melody. Sorry!) 


Not a Standard Christian
Q. I do not fit the standard (and rather less than ideal) profile of a "Christian" that you mention in your books. How can you account for this? 

A. I can’t. It’s a miracle. 


Christianity and Church
Q. Most of your observations about Christianity come from your Catholic background. Might your books be viewed as a response against that church alone? Why do you slam Christianity? Christianity is not a single, organized religion. 

A. First of all, most of my observations in the book come from knowledge of the basic tenets of the Christian religion, three of which are "you have to go to church," "you are free to choose Christ," and "you will be damned if you are not wise enough to choose Christ." These things are common to the Catholic and Protestant "faiths." Like it or not, a person is instantly stereotyped when answering "yes" to the question, "Are you a Christian?" And like it or not, Christianity is a single, organized religion. In Daniel, chapter nine, the four major religions on earth are pictured by four beasts that rise from the sea. The fourth beast, the monstress, is Christianity. As the monstress is its own entity, so is Christianity.


Judgment for Dishonorable Vessels
Q. You teach the complete sovereignty of God and your evidence is compelling. I tend to agree with you, but I have a problem with God still judging vessels of dishonor that He, Himself, (if I’m to believe what you’re telling me) makes that way. I don’t understand this. Can you explain it to me so that I can understand it? 

A. Sure. The first step is to believe at face value what Paul is plainly saying in Romans 9, namely, that God makes both vessels of honor and dishonor, for His glory. God is the Potter, human beings are the clay. This is very easy to understand. Potter and clay, what a simple picture. A child says, "Yep, got it." This only becomes difficult when we attempt to fit our square-pegged theology into Paul’s round-hole revelation.

Now, your protest is: Why does God judge vessels that He, Himself, makes dishonorable? You may be amazed to learn that Paul anticipated your protest two thousand years ago. Read Romans 9: "You will be protesting to me, then: Why is God still judging?"

Before we read Paul’s answer, please understand something. This protest would not even have arisen had not the protestor understood Paul’s revelation. Paul had just made God responsible for creating bad people. Paul’s specific example was the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Paul quotes God as saying, "I harden Pharaoh’s heart." If Paul had said, "God judges Pharaoh because Pharaoh was a self-made jerk," the protest would never have arisen. Well? Would it have? The potential-protestor would have said, "Well, that makes sense. Pharaoh brought it upon himself." But alas, Paul says that Pharaoh’s hardness isn’t Pharaoh’s fault, and so the protest arises, not because Paul is not believed, but because Paul is believed. It’s just that the revelation doesn’t seem fair to the protestor.

I’m bringing this up because this proves that the protestor at least acknowledges Paul’s revelation. This is more than we can say for most Christians. (Most Christians I know can’t stand the thought of being clay. They would certainly rather think of themselves as the shapers of their own destinies.) They don’t even believe Paul’s revelation, let alone have honest problems with it. And so acknowledging the revelation is one thing, understanding why God does it that way is another.

Paul’s answer to the protestor? "O man! who are you, to be sure, who are answering again to God? That which is molded will not protest to the molder, ‘Why do you make me thus?’ Or has not the potter the right over the clay, out of the same kneading to make one vessel, indeed, for honor, yet one for dishonor?"

So Paul doesn’t really answer the protest. He just says, "How dare you protest in the first place?" We must look to other portions of Scripture to understand that God’s judgments are always righteous.

As soon as we hear the word judge, as in God judging Pharaoh, most of us think, "unfair!" Our bias is showing. We assume that judging is bad. But all of God’s judging is good. It may be rough, but it is done for the sake of the one being judged, for that one’s education. It is remedial, not punitive. Pharaoh will learn something of God when he is judged at the great white throne. Is Pharaoh damned to hell for eternity? No. Otherwise, God would be responsible for it, as it was God Who hardened his heart in the first place.

No, but Pharaoh does go to the lake of fire, which is the second death. He is dead, unconscious, asleep here, not tormented in flames. (Only the beast, the Adversary and the false prophet are consciously tormented here for—as the Greek says—"the eons of the eons.") But, praise God, death will be abolished (1 Corinthians 15:26), and God will become all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28). This "all in all" includes Pharaoh. (If it includes me, then it must include Pharaoh.)

The truth is that God needs both vessels of honor and dishonor to reveal His purposes. As we come to realize this, it slowly dawns on us that we are no different than Pharaoh. It slowly dawns on us that God chose us to believe. He did not choose us because our clay was any different than Pharaoh’s. He did it solely because He favors us. This is an utterly shocking revelation, when finally it hits.

Is it fair that we come to believe now, while Pharaoh doesn’t come until later? I don’t know if it’s fair, but everything God does is right. Pharaoh will have no objections when he comes to life at the consummation (1 Corinthians 15:24), finally realizing the salvation won for him by Christ. And since the scriptural principle is "He who has been forgiven much, loves much," I think that Pharaoh will be praising God louder for eternity than either of us. This is a sound I am most anxious to hear.  


Have you read Martin's answers to 21 questions from the Baptist minister?

Also, for detailed answers on MANY more questions, please see the "Letters" section of Zenderature

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